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  • Writer's pictureDr JP Guidry DPT CSCS TPI

The Barbell and the Golf Club: My Journey with Anxiety and Depression

Today I'm going to talk about a more of a kind of personal topic, but I think it's a very important topic which is why I want to share my story and if it helps anybody else and their challenges with depression, anxiety and mental health, that's kind of the hope for this. I entitled this blog, the barbell and the golf club for very specific reason. Those are two things that I can put in my hands and it'll all go away. It may go away temporarily and it may come right back but they are, they are very two important things to me. This is why I'm very passionate about helping others in these areas because I know how important getting out on the golf course, whether it's playing nine by myself or going out with friends and socializing and playing a money game or whatever that may be, I know for that period of time I can be present and my mind can be clear. I can be focused on the round and the conversations and the socializing it and that is it. The same thing goes for me when I'm in the gym. Obviously as a golf performance and fitness coach those tools are very important to what I do for a living. But on a kind of deeper note, they are the two things that have always saved me in my darkest times.

Let’s start with a little history about me, depression and anxiety are something that was kind of unbeknownst to me for a long time in my life, but I have I've always dealt with it. I was always very well aware of the anxiety part and it really started to show its face as I got into high school, college and PT school which is when I started actually seeking some treatment for that, both for through counseling and through medicine. During all that time I always felt there was this kind of underlying feeling going on that I never could kind of put my finger on. I always wrote it off to stress, anxiety and things like that. Not until I went through a divorce a few years back and started seeking counseling again, did I realize that this feeling was depression that I was dealing with and I finally could start to properly treat and address it. These things have had a huge impact on my life and partially because I went a very long time without addressing them, probably due to in some part some of the stigma and fear of admitting I was depressed.

The reality is, that lack of addressing it, affected my life. You know, it was part of what led to, my contribution to the ending of my marriage. It was part of what led to the closing down of my outpatient PT clinic around that same time along with other factors. The reality is that it was very unchecked and very out of control at that point. I was never really suicidal, but there were definitely a very dark periods of my life which affected my mood, my motivation, my decision making etc.

I just wasn't kind of aware of it or I guess I was aware, but not aware is the best way to put it. I knew something was there, I knew there was this of feeling of being down but I never recognized it as depression. Sometimes it was very mild, sometimes it was very intense but you know, I could never really put my finger on it. So, I want to stress the importance of getting that diagnosed which has allowed me to get treated medically through medication and through counseling giving me the tools to use to combat it. This is not to say that I don’t still struggle with it but I definitely have a better handle on it as a whole

It is something that I think people that don't have it, have a hard time understanding what it is and that it doesn't just kind of go away. You know, there are periods where it's very minimal and mild, and there are periods where it's very heavy and controls my thoughts, my mindset and my life. The reality is that there are still days where the only thing that gets me out of bed and gets me going are my children, and there are days when with me and I struggle to get out of bed and be productive at all. This can put me in this cycle of feeling guilty for not being productive, if you will. It's this kind of ongoing battle between, my logical and emotional areas of my brain. The difference is now I have the medication and tolls to help control those battles much better.

I don't want this to be a woe is me or feel sorry for me thing, I just want this to be eye opening that, even though my job is to help people, none of us are perfect. Although, I have been fairly successful at it from an outcome standpoint and somewhat financially I still struggle with imposter syndrome on a regular basis. There are days I feel like a fraud because I can't get control of my own, mental health and get away from my healthy habits and here I am trying to show someone else how to do that in their life. That’s the thing I've got a fair amount of knowledge with it. I've got a fair number of tools to put into practice for myself and to help others deal with those issues or at the very least recognize when to refer out to a qualified mental health professional.

That doesn't mean that I'm perfect with it, I'm very far from perfect with it in my own life so I never expect perfect form my clients as we are all fallible human beings.

Mental well-being is something that I wake up every day and make a priority of. You know, for me, it's just as important as my workouts, as my physical training. Just like there are days when I miss my workouts or when I don't eat like I would like to, there are days when I don't perform my mental health routine. The best that we can do is go out, wake up every day and, and control what we can control and try to not worry about the things we can't control.

Again, the reason I want to put this out there is I want people to understand that this is okay. You know, that there really should not be a stigma around mental health issues. That was part of the reason I didn't, uh, seek help for a long time was the fear about feeling weak or feeling broken or whatever that may be.

That's my journey up to this point. This is why I'm very passionate about what I do as a coach because I know maybe those things don't have the same, meaning to everyone I work with as far as the barbell and the golf club go. But for me, they're my saviors, they are a big part of what has kept me out of letting that darkness continue to, to snowball into an even worse place than it has ever gotten to.

In closing the best advice that I can give is if you feel like this is something you're dealing with, seek help. Tell your doctor, seek a mental health professional, talk to a friend, talk to somebody. Don't keep it inside because it will catch up with you. I'm telling you this because it caught up with me until I got the help I needed.


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