At the Bar: Treating My Mental Health With CrossFit

I know what you’re thinking, “Please, God, not another CrossFit post.” But this one is going in a different direction, so just hear me out.

Instead of your usual workout specs and nutrition values, I want to talk about CrossFit and mental health. Granted, on a normal day, you might not find many people putting these two things together. However, I’m not normal and it’s 2:30 pm on a Thursday, so I’m doing things my way.

Over the past few years I’ve been an on-and-off participant in the wild, sometimes painful, workout regimen that is CrossFit. I had my first experience in 2011, but didn’t particularly enjoy the atmosphere of the gym I was attending (never trust a place with cliques and acceptance of bad form). It wasn’t until the end of 2013 that I really found my “home” in CrossFit Throne in Lubbock, TX.

From the moment I walked in I knew this was the place for me. The coaches, especially Jon and Lauri, made me feel like I mattered. These are two people who will go out of their way to do anything for you. I’ve also appreciated how Jon feels more like mentor than a coach. He always has something wise to say about anything, trust me. He might not agree, but don’t listen to him. Humility and all that.

I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety for quite some time, but CrossFit Throne always gave me a safe space to go when things seemed too much. I won’t tell you it was easy. Some days I didn’t want to even move, but knowing I had a little community that supported me gave me hope. They may not have been aware of what was going on inside my head, but I knew I was in capable hands.

Not everyone’s depression and anxiety works the same. Some people have a much harder time than others. Roping people into a generic category, especially where mental health is concerned, is dangerous. Each person needs their own coping mechanisms and medication. As for me, I medicated with WODs (workouts of the day) and the energy from my peers. Each time I picked up a barbell loaded with weight, it felt like I was taking my depression and anxiety and conquering it one lift at a time. It gave me a moment to step out of the darkness I was wading through and get a breath of fresh air. For that, I’ll always be grateful.

I know CrossFit doesn’t have the greatest reputation, and I’m not surprised, but it will always be something special to me. I may not have abs of steel or be able to do a handstand push-up (I think they’re stupid so it’s fine), but I do have a community that will always be close when I need them. I have a group of people I know I can rely on when the things in my head get a little too tough to handle. If I never found this place I’m not sure I would have made it through those dark patches in one piece.

So, the next time you roll your eyes at the mention of CrossFit, just remember it serves a purpose and it can be a lifeline for those of us who find ourselves going under.

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