by Devan Kane
When I was at Sacred Heart and stood up and told my story, it was hard.
Don’t get me wrong – it was really hard. It was that invisible barrier we as athletes believe is there: that we need to be strong and get through anything.
Admitting to the world of athletics, my niche and my people, that I was hurting deeper than the crutches showed, that I attempted to take my life, that I self-harmed, that underneath the outgoing person I am and was, there was a dark fight going on.
My senior year I decided to raise awareness, start a conversation, and to shut down this stigma that for whatever reason, seems to be the biggest roadblock.
I think we all know a lot about Heart to Heart; and what I did at Sacred Heart, but that’s not why I am here.
I am here to talk about how just because I stood up, time and time again, and admitted that I was struggling and that I have depression and a darkness inside of me, it didn't mean it went away. It wasn’t a 3 year cold or flu I caught in college, or another knee surgery.
I have depression.
I still have that fun voice in my head that brings me to my knees, that can cripple my soul and never allows me to celebrate things because I feel as if I am undeserving of them or undeserving of being here.
Now, there can be a week where everything seems okay, then another week, and then I can dip down into a place where I'm not the Devan some of my best friends know. I want to keep this conversation going, and not necessarily about me; but about just because I have been so open about my struggles that they’re not sometimes still there.
I had this huge misconception, that to some may be obvious but I am just realizing: I believed that because I have been so candid about my past, my attempt, my self-harm, my depression and my recovery through that part of my life, that I needed to be okay or I couldn’t tell people there was hope.
And that just is not true.
If I fully recovered and was just okay after that, I would be lying and I think most would be able to tell. Still to this day, living with some of the things from that past leave me with feelings of guilt and the gut wrenching question of “why?”
I started a new job in June and let me just start by saying it is easily the best decision I could have ever made. With that being said, it involved a transition – a change.
Change is good, change is needed for growth, but, what I didn’t know was how hard it was going to be. Accepting the job meant I needed to move to Boston: another dream of mine as long as I can remember. I was excited for the opportunity to do something that I love and live in a city where so many of my best friends lived. What I didn’t realize was the toll it would take on me to not have my own place to sleep, to commute to Maine every Friday after work and back to Boston every Monday before work.
Fun fact: JUST BECAUSE I took a purple train into the city DOES NOT mean that any purple train will bring me to my necessary destination.
I lived off of Starbucks coffee and smoothie bowls, as I was discovering a new city. I had my car break, I had a black eye because I dropped a weight on my face, I showered in the gym and rushed into work with shower sweats.
I have never thought of myself as someone who struggles to make friends or have a group of people to talk to – and at this job that was no exception. The people around me are some of the most accepting and WONDERFUL people through and through that I have ever met in my life. But, except for a few, not everyone at this job knew my whole story. And not that they needed to, but they just didn’t know me well enough to know that the constant smile, the joking about the living off of a Caramel Macchiato was just me hiding the pain.
Let me make it clear that that is in no way anyone’s fault, me hiding my pain was exactly my intention. I didn’t want these people I just met – my coworkers – to think that I couldn’t do this job, that I wasn’t going to be successful because I couldn’t handle a little bit of life’s turbulence.
But here’s the thing. I needed help. I was collapsing, the thoughts were back, the weight loss, the mind racing, and the not sleeping, the selfish: “why can’t I just be okay?” I would pace for hours at night, I would cry like I had never cried before in the most crippling panic type of way, and all of a sudden started to see freshman year Devan in the mirror and we all know where that goes.
If I wanted to put an end to this vicious cycle and to do what I beg so many people are hurting to do – I needed to do it for myself. I needed to admit I wasn’t okay, tell someone that I was hurting in such an inconceivable way.
I needed to ask for help.
So I did. I asked for help, I explained to people I work with, to people in my family, that I wasn’t okay. That I was struggling and needed their help and support in finding me the right help and support. I needed to teach myself that people weren’t checking in or telling me to reach out because they felt that they needed to–they were doing that because they actually cared.
To this day I can still struggle with understanding that all of these people who were the most wonderful and accepting people, really ARE the most wonderful and accepting people. They want me to be my best self and they know that if the roles were reversed, I would help them, too.
I was going down an ugly all-too-familiar path that I am still working through. I was going to weekly therapy, utilizing my benefits at work, and having the open dialogue and learning when asked “how are you” to answer it TRUTHFULLY.
It does no one in this world any good to sit there and say “good, you?” when it’s not true.
I always struggle with admitting this place that I am in because guys, I don’t know why it happens.
I don’t have a “why” or some past that opens a Pandora’s Box of secrets that explain why I am this way. Mental illness is just that–an illness. And at the end of the day, it is how I was picked to be wired. I have the best parents, best (most of the time) brothers, best friends, coworkers, bosses, and everyone in between. But I am still depressed and I would make myself go absolutely mad if I tried to find a reason for why I feel the way I feel sometimes, and that’s the stigma I choose to fight every day.
I can be the funniest person in the room and still breaking in my soul, and no one knows what to do or what to say. People are well aware I have depression and yet still, don’t ask because it’s uncomfortable.
I have said so many times that comfort is the casualty of growth. Growth as a human, growth in work, growth in hobbies, growth in everything. If we don’t learn to deal with the discomforts of life, in this situation, we are going to lose lives. The people I have chosen to keep in my corner and close to me are the people NOT afraid to ask me if I am okay and call me out if they think I am trying to pull a fast one.
I have truly started to believe that there is nothing to be ashamed of. I have depression, I have a voice in my head that makes me feel useless and questioning on its worst days my worth on this earth.
But, I have learned that if you have your people, your plan, and you ASK FOR HELP there is so much more hope than I ever knew.
Talking and asking for help truly saves lives.
Every 40 seconds someone dies by suicide and that’s because they lost sight in the HOPE of things getting better. The hope is what gets me up. The hope of the good in the world and its people and in me being okay, gets me up. The absolute indescribable feeling of people who reach out to me and tell me “you saved…”, “you helped…”, get me up. Looking at people in my life who are living and breathing examples of getting through their shit and telling THEIR stories, get me up. What I hope for everyone in this world or for the people going through something big to find the hope. That they ask for help. That they admit that they aren’t okay. Because I just recently did, and thank goodness I did, or I was going back into the place that I promised I would never go to again.
Putting in the work that comes with therapy, comes with continuously being honest to everyone in my life, is an ongoing fight and battle I fight every day.
But I continue to do so.
I continue to get up.
I choose to never give up.
I choose to tell my story and continue this open dialogue.
I choose to keep going.
PS - I have a home now :)