This is me
I’m Trey Lawrence. I’m a personal trainer and owner of Anarchy45 group-fitness studio. I’m lean and – when it comes to training – it’s no secret that I’m mean. I’m a loving husband and doting dad. I’m an F1 fan, musician and academic. I’m a man with depression.
There. I’ve said it. I’ve broken the silence. Not that I have a problem talking openly about my depression. I’m comfortable with it. But are you?
Like many people, you might be wondering what to do with that information. But after years of worrying about what people think or say, I’ve made a choice not to care. Why? Because one out of every six people in this country suffer in silence with a mental health problem like depression. And it shouldn’t be that way. It’s got to stop. And it starts like this. By people – like me – talking about it. And by people – like you – accepting it.
But let me be clear. I’m not talking about the sort of depression that some people fake to be fashionable at work or with friends. And I’m not talking about feeling miserable, moody or sad from time to time.
I’m talking about the real deal. That dark and desperately lonely place that sucks you in whole and wants to keep you there. A place of anger and anxiety. A place you don’t want to go but at the same time, struggle to resist.
That’s ‘my’ depression. It might be different from yours or someone’s you know. But I know it well and own it. Not only that, I’ve learned to accept it as part of who I am. And I’m 100% ok with it.
But it wasn’t always that way.
I used to think having depression was a character defect or personality flaw. Which isn’t surprising when you think about the stigma that’s stuck with it for so long. Words like ‘broken’, ‘damaged’, ‘not right’ come to mind.
But if I could go back to 14 year-old Trey, I’d say: “Life’s simple – you make choices and don’t look back.” I would have saved myself, and the people I care about, a lot of grief.
Rather than trying to run away from myself, fix myself, harm myself or end my life (which I tried to do twice), I would have learned sooner to accept who I am and allow myself to be me.
I would have learned that depression isn’t about feeling crap for no reason. That there are very real reasons – such as personal trauma and chemical imbalances in the body, like low serotonin levels in the brain causing a dip in mood, sleep and social behaviour.
For me, it was a mixture of things – a chain of events starting with the tragic loss of my father, which ran deep and left painful scars, coupled with chemical imbalances. My feelings of loss and anger were then compounded by systematic bullying at school. So that by the time I was 14, I didn’t want to be anymore. I wanted out.
But if people talked more about depression back then, I would have learned to understand what I was going through, recognise and own my demons sooner, and dealt with them better than I did.
That’s why I’m talking about it now. So that others might find the courage to start the conversation that ends with acceptance and healing.
But depression doesn’t always look like depression.
In my experience, it’s not the people who walk around looking the part. It’s often the people who look like they’ve got it together who are suffering the most. The people who laugh out loud, are surrounded by friends, and seemingly have it all. They’ve become experts at masking their depression. Like I did.
On the outside, I’m confident, outgoing and full of life. But on the inside, I can be riddled with self-doubt, dwindling confidence and deep loneliness. Even when I’m surrounded by people I love and who love me. It’s the reason people who truly know me call me ‘Banner’ after the great Stan Lee’s (may he rest in peace) Marvel hero Bruce Banner – one side of me is gentle and easy going, but when my triggers strike (and believe me, they do), I become the Hulk.
But I can thank my early years of athletics and sprinting for setting me on a path that’s got me this far today. It was the ‘thing’ I needed to get me out of bed in morning.
At 16 years old, I got into sprinting late in the day. But I was still good, and it showed me that I was capable of doing more – being more – than I ever thought I could. It sparked a determination in me that’s seen me survive the brutal curve balls that life’s hurled at me over the years.
Being active has continued to be my outlet for stress, anxiety and anger, and given me the confidence to tell anyone who wants to judge me and my depression to – quite frankly – kiss my ass.
And I’m here to say I think more of us should. Because the more people who do – the more people who talk about it – the more depression will become less of a ‘thing’.
Talking about it will break the silence and smash the stigma. It’ll make it easier for people to ask for help and be helped.
Let’s cut the crap, people. Let’s be true to ourselves and who we are, and true to each other. Let’s talk about this, and sort it out together. Bring it on.
Owner and Personal Trainer
Keep a lookout for our Mental Health Charity Golf Day, 3 April 2019.