T Nation

Overcoming Mental Adversity


Good day, all. Hope this post finds everyone doing alright. I am an avid mixed-martial artist, fitness nut, and competitor. I’ve fought in five shows, got deployed for fifteen months, and am now getting ready to resume competition next month. The team I train with is top notch, however, my biggest stumbling block has always been in the mental department.

I’ve struggled with depression (PTSD according to original diagnosis) for over a decade now, however, I’m now being sent for testing for bipolar disorder. What I would like to figure out is how to keep my motivation and energy levels up, in spite of these stumbling blocks. There have been far too many times that I’ve either lacked the mental energy, lost focus, or just kept doubting myself.

I’m already on meds, however, I would like to read what advice you all could possibly provide…fresh ideas, I suppose. Thanks in advance for your input, and for simply reading this.

Depression can be a very very tough condition. Ten years is a long time to struggle with depression. So I would consider your depression “resistant” even if it is mild.

Trying to motivate yourself when you have depression (where your brain is not functioning normally) is like trying to type faster when the keyboard is unplugged from the computer.

So IMO your primary priority should be to treat the depression. However, meds that are successful in treating the depression may not help with motivation. In fact, they are kind of famous for killing motivation and drive. But I would advise you to take awhile, I’m talking maybe a year or two, to focus on getting healthy. Don’t worry too much about motivation or energy. The important thing is to get your brain functioning reasonably well. Work with a good doctor until you get a treatment that WORKS; then focus on lifestyle changes that promote mental health (30-60 minutes of walking in daylight in the AM, loads of fish oil, a diet with quality carbs, stress reduction).

If bipolar is a possibility, you cannot be too careful. Where depression is tough, bipolar is brutal. You have to get an awesome doctor and prioritize your treatment above all else.

Put up big sheets of paper with your goals on it on the walls. Look at it daily and remind yourself about what is important to you.

Set some short term(under 30 days), Midterm (1month to 3 months), longer (3-6 months) and long term (1year+) goals. Check them off as you go along.

If you miss one don’t sweat it. Modify the goal and shoot for that.

I’m going to combine the advice of the above two posters. I’m in the same boat with depression, anxiety and PTSD. It sucks. Ok? Ain’t ever going to change. Now how do I deal with it?

  1. I take my meds every day.

  2. I address the underlying condition so I can get off the meds,

  3. I set goals but these goals include daily goals. Get out of bed, eat breakfast, treat my family well, go to work and do what is expected of me, etc. These goals are mandatory because w/o them shit just gets worse.

  4. Train, train and train but with realistic expectations. I have bad arthritis that limits my training frequently. Do I get down about it? A little but that’s nothing compared to how bad I feel when I quit instead of just doing what I can do that day.

Start small and slowly build up Beast and I promise you you will do well.