“Not once did I walk off the field feeling proud of myself”

This post was originally published in Swedish.

Trigger warnings: Suicidal thoughts, panic attacks, performance anxiety

I’ve been dealing with mental illness for my whole life. I just did not know what it was when I was younger. I thought everyone shared the same feeling as I. You know the panic attacks, the performance anxiety, the “voices” in your head screaming you’re not good enough. 

I played soccer and floorball until I was in my twenties. I was a goaltender and I always had put a lot of expectations on myself to be the best player and help my team to win games. Not once did I walk off the field feeling proud of myself, regardless of how good I played and how many shots I’ve saved. Sure, I smiled and laughed but inside the anxiety was eating me up. I never talked to anyone about how I felt and no-one ever mentioned mental illness during my whole career. Today I only do sports for fun and I train Crossfit, but I’m still having the same problems with performance anxiety and those same voices still screaming in my head.

I play in a band and sometimes the anxiety makes me not wanna go on stage. I hyperventilate, the world shrinks and I just want to die. If someone who never battled with panic attacks asks I say that it literally feels like you’re gonna die. Have you ever gotten so scared that the body justs shut down and it feels like this is your last minute on earth? That’s what a panic attack feels like.

I’ve been suicidal all my life and I tried killing myself more than once, but thank God I’m still here. ??To live with that awful feeling that you are the worst person in the whole world, that nobody loves you or understands you and that you’re better off dead, is hard to cope with. I know that it’s just my brain trying to fool me. I know that when I’m feeling ok and happy. But as soon as I’m feeling depressed all knowledge of mental illness is gone. I get into a tunnel vision and all I see and feel is pain. That down roll spiral often wakes up the suicide voices in my head. 

I have a note at home on my wall with a list of what I shall do to break that negative spiral, things that have worked for me before in my life. This is my to-do list when I’m down, feel free to copy and personalize it for you. 

1. Get out of bed and try to go out in nature. A short walk to ease your mind. 
2. Go work out or do something that makes your heart pump. Working out is good for you and especially when you feel bad. 
3. Visit a friend for a cup of coffee and small talk. 
4. Keep your mind busy doing things you like. Play the guitar, sing, build something, whatever you can focus on is good. 
5. Don’t forget to drink water, eat and sleep! 
6. Don’t lie in bed and over analyze your feelings. 

And I have some feel-good quotes on top of the list. A pep-talk to myself. And at the end of the list, I’ve written down names and phone numbers to a few people. I have asked them if it’s okay if I call if I feel bad and need help.

At the bottom of the note, I have Swedish emergency numbers. If no one of my friends is answering I know that they always pick up and know how to help in a matter of life and death.

I try to talk to everyone I know about mental illness. Try to describe the problems I’ve suffered from, just to wash away the stigma of having mental problems. It’s hard but I have made a stand that I want to help other people who live with the same issues. I have a small group of friends that I almost talk to every day. If I feel down I can call one up and I don’t need to explain how I feel because they’ve been through the same things. For me that is golden.

Start talking to people about mental illness and don’t be ashamed. The first time I talked about how I felt was on Facebook. I didn’t want people guessing what was happening and start making up rumors. I wrote down exactly how I felt and didn’t hold back, even about my suicide attempts. I was nervous the week after coming back to work knowing everybody had read it. But the coworkers hugged me and told me I was brave to tell everyone. I learned that everyone has someone they know that struggles with mental illness. And from that day I made a deal with myself that never be ashamed again for having mental issues.

I hope you all the best, and if anyone wants to talk with me feel free to send me an email at lundbmartin@gmail.com. Don’t be afraid we are all going through this together. Thanks for listening ❤️

Martin Lundberg, 36, former floorball- and soccer player, Örnsköldsvik (Sweden)

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published.