I Asked for Help and it Saved Me – Again
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.