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Monday, 02 December 2013 15:24

You Are Not Broken

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Several years ago while sitting with a trusted friend we began to reminisce about high school. As I talked about the good and bad that comes with that "joyous" time of life, I thought back to my younger self's battles for identity and the additional silent wars fought against anxiety and depression. Imagine trying to define yourself while dealing with those particular ghosts in the closet?

My friend immediately noticed the quiet change that came over my face. "You ok?"

"I feel sorry for him," I said quietly. And I did. When I thought back to all that my 15-18 year old self had to deal with, I silently wanted to applaud the fact that I had survived. Depression sucks at any age, let alone to a barely-able-to-drive kid who thought his world revolved around bobsled, girls, good grades and my faith. I didn't know words like "cope", "share", "vent", "heal" and "support." All I knew was that I was supposed to keep it together, put the big smile on my face and make it through. Like many guys, I would be damned before I admitted I needed a helping hand.

Don't get me wrong; I had some amazing experiences in high school. From my first bobsled medal to my first kiss, staying true to my faith to making some of the best friends of my life, high school rocked. I had a good (though highly-imperfect) family, good health, good jobs, good leaders and good opportunities.

Yet despite all that, there were the nagging doubts, the overwhelming insecurities, the fears, and the feelings of helplessness against the anxiety/depression. In that particular fight I was a David without stones standing before a mental/emotional Goliath. No wonder I felt "broken."

I explained all this to my friend, feeling a bit of relief to get it off my chest. She sat there for a moment, studying the look in my eyes. "What would you tell him?" she asked.

"Who?" I said quizzically.

"That you in high school. That young kid who wanted to change the world, but was afraid he'd never make it.

We sat there in silence for several minutes. I looked over the past 15+ years since high school. I thought of all the highs and lows, the joys and pains, the wins and the losses. I looked back at those difficult years with a slightly (only slightly) more mature view on life and the world and my heart broke, but in a good way. I smiled. "I'd tell him that he isn't broken. That there is hope. That it isn't the end of the world, but the beginning of it. That he isn't alone and that he doesn't have to carry the burden or fight the fight alone."

My friend sat quietly then smiled wisely. "When are you going to tell yourself that?"

She had a point. I see it everyday (including in myself), good and wonderful people all around me who are doing their best, who have been through the ringer in life. They are ashamed of their scars, of the wounds they are honestly striving to heal. They feel like they can't admit to being human, to being imperfect, to making mistakes or suffering or being afraid.

To them I would say the same thing that I wish I could go back in time and tell my younger self: "You're doing just fine. Don't be ashamed of the scars, everything worth doing in life will leave a scar of some sort. Don't hide them or hide because of them. Those who love you don't care and those who do care probably don't love you. Live freely and live deeply. Let the past go, exorcise the ghosts and never, ever, ever stop believing in a bright future."

You are not broken. You are doing just fine.

Fire on Ice by Jeremy C Holm

Jeremy C. Holm

Author & American athlete Jeremy C. Holm has spent over half his life in the fast-paced winter sport of bobsled, including as the Head Coach for the US Adaptive Bobsled Team. He has a degree in Journalism and is pursuing a degree in Military History at the American Military University. In addition to motivational speaking and corporate appearances around the world, Jeremy is the author of three books and spends his time camping, hiking, writing and trying to make history, one day at a time.

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