Melanie Ent Testimony

I've experienced anxiety and panic attacks for as long as I can remember, even as a child. At 17 I went to my doctor and said I was sad all the time and didn't want to do anything because I was scared to leave the house. She promptly told me I was depressed and tossed me a prescription. I hated the idea of being dependent on a pill so I never took it. Fast forward 4 years--I wasted a lot of my time in college feeling too depressed to make myself go to class or even get out of bed and too anxious to be social in public. That coupled with attempting to come out of the closet had me in the front seat of the struggle bus. I went back on medication and basically numbed myself through the next couple years in order to graduate.

Post-grad life in a new city proved to be pretty stressful...adulting is hard y'all. I wasn't playing sports anymore, my diet went to shit, and I was drinking every weekend because my girlfriend at the time worked in the restaurant industry and I could have all the free drinks I wanted. I eventually quit a toxic job and realized that I could either use my unemployment time to lay on the couch eating pizza and feeling sorry for myself, or I could use my newfound free time to job search and focus on my health. I dove into a Paleo-ish lifestyle and did at home Crossfit workouts with a 5# kettlebell in my apartment and started running. I lost weight and felt more confident. Eventually I found the courage to actually join a Crossfit gym, and I fell in love. That gym and its people are everything to me, and I'm eternally grateful for the family I've become a part of.

However, mentally I just never felt right. I would still experience times of sever depression despite being medicated. I'd go weeks without lifting and would sleep as much as possible just to not be awake and alive. Then there'd be a month when I'd "snap out of it". I'd be super productive, extra social, wild with my money, and was full of energy talking a mile a minute. I'd PR day after day and felt invincible. After being depressed most of the time, these spurts just felt like what real life what supposed to be. These cycles became more pronounced so I started to do some research. Everything I read online pointed to the fact that this was not normal and I was petrified. I finally sat down with my girlfriend of almost 4 years and told her I thought I might be bipolar. She was supportive for about 48hrs and then promptly left me because she "couldn't handle the long road ahead and didn't have time to deal" with me so she moved in with someone else.

I was crushed and knew I needed to seek help now more than ever. I found a great threrapist and with a team of psychiatrists I was diagnosed as bipolar 2 in spring of 2016. Despite a seriously rocky road to get to a stable place, I'm still standing. The gym became my main source of self-care and social interaction. I stopped drinking all the time, I learned more about fueling my body correctly, and put my time and energy into Crossfit and Olympic lifting. Being in recovery is a constant effort and not a linear journey. Some days are harder than others---but just like in my fitness journey, it's about progress not perfection.

I had always admired Carrie Fisher for being so brutally honest and yet hilarious about her life, as well as for her portrayal of overall female badass, Princess Leia. But I never knew I'd admire her as much as I do for being downright proud of her bipolar diagnosis and owning it. I'd be lying if I said I'm 100% comfortable with my situation, but growth never comes from being comfortable.

“You don’t have to like doing a lot of what you do, you just have to do it. You can't let it all fall down and feel defeated and hopeless and that you’re done. But you reached out to me – that took courage. Now build on that. Move through those feelings and meet me on the other side. As your bipolar sister, I’ll be watching. Now get out there and show me and you what you can do.”--Carrie Fisher, The Guardian 2016