Chris Ridgeway: Wrestling, Depression & I


Before I get into anything I’m gonna say a couple of things just to set things straight.
I’m just going to type and not re-write anything. This all needs to be things I’m saying ‘off the cuff’ (I’m a right worker after all) so it is natural and it is not thought about too much. Apologies to the grammar Nazi’s in advance.

I’m not going to name any names of people that may be briefly mentioned. Those who have helped me have been thanked and will be thanked every day until I annoy them so much they leave me. I could’ve done this anonymously to be honest but then it wouldn’t have a real person talking about real things. No realism = no investment in it.

Credit: Steve Warren

This isn’t about me looking for sympathy or doing the whole “Woe is me” thing, I’m not about that… People have said I’m brave for speaking out about depression, I am not brave for that. People have actually seemed to go off me a little or fallen out with me for openly talking about it too for whatever reason. That’s their choice to do so, not mine.
This is to show that everyone that suffers with depression or any mental illness can come back from a low and use it in spite of their condition. I also want people to speak out about it. Do not ignore it. Do not pretend it doesn’t exist. Do not think you’re a “freak” or “different”. I did for years and it only made things worse. I mean, damn right I’m a bit different and a freak, you have to be if you’re going to be a professional wrestler.
I hope this helps the people it needs to.

I first went the doctors around October of 2014, unsure of what they would say. After years and years of reacting ridiculously to scenarios that seemed mundane to others but were a big deal to me. I’d flip out or break down over the smallest things in a way that I thought was reasonable. Anyway, my doctor (Who was fantastic to me) had spoken to me for an hour and a half and psycho-analysed me to death. She confirmed what I didn’t want to know. “I’m afraid you have depression and of a severe level. Purely because of how long you have suffered and not attempted to seek help before today.” – They were her words. Legit. I will remember them because I broke down. I was absolutely exhausted. I never told anyone for a while, I kept it to myself for so long and finally decided to tell extremely close friends and family. Kept my cards close to my chest. I went back and forth to talk to my doctor. I refused medication for my own personal reasons. I refused help too, I wanted to do this alone still. I went to hell and back in my head over and over and over and sometimes it would all become a bit too much and I’d break down more than I can even begin describe. I was not eating at all and insomnia certainly did not help. Not being able to sleep but being tired + depression + overthinking + no appetite = Terrible nights.

Stuff happened at work. I needed time away, they fired me because of it. Whatever. It is what it is. Right after Christmas though!

So from Oct-Feb were my darker days whilst being in the know. There was a light at the end of the tunnel but we’ll save that.
During this time, I wrestled a fair few matches. I’d arrive at venues, hug people, shake hands, do my match, do what all pro-wrestlers do. However, the entire time I was there I was waiting for someone to pick up on the fact I was little less enthusiastic than usual and became paranoid that people thought I was being a moody prick. So I faked smiles etc and avoided people when possible. Kept the talking etc to a minimum as I knew that as soon as someone would ask “Whats up?” I’d break. Sounds silly, right? Yup, I felt silly. There was a couple of occasions that I just wanted to stay at home and keep myself to myself and not bother anyone/not be a burden to people by being miserable around them but I couldn’t let it beat me so I always went and faked a smile. One time, just before Christmas, I was on the way in the car to a venue and I broke down. I did not want to wrestle. I cried just because I’d had enough. I was sat there in the car in the passenger seat with my head in my hands and I could not wrestle. I felt so low. The driver said to me “We can turn round and go home, its OK to do that?” I refused to go home. At the end of the day, I agreed to wrestle on this date. Just because I am fed up doesn’t mean I have to let others down. I was an absolute mess, I felt weak and I began to feel sick. I turned up at the venue and told the promoter I was unwell so I may not be at my best and apologized profusely. I went to the toilets and slapped myself silly(metaphorically of course, I may have a type of mental illness but I’m not a serial killer), I snapped out of it and got changed, went out and did that match. Everything was fine. Cold and sore but fine. I had to do that match otherwise I would’ve been beaten. If you give up one thing and just sit by yourself feeling sorry for yourself, I’m sorry to break it to you but you’re already losing.

You cannot let it beat you.

Credit: Steve Warren

You need to fight against whatever is telling you to quit. You must carry on and stiffen that upper lip and ENJOY yourself.
I’ve loved wrestling since I was like 3 or 4. Everyone knows that. Would 3 or 4 year old little shy version of 21 year old me be happy that I gave up a show just because I was down? Nah. Would he fuck.

There are many times I’m in the gym or at home and I look in the mirror and I absolutely hate what I see. I hate how I look and I hate that I’m not jacked to death yet, its pretty damn frustrating. Am I going to stop training? No. That would be me losing.

EXAMPLE: You suffer from depression, you’re at uni, things are getting hard, revision is piling on top of you, stress is at an all time high, you’re pretty skint cos you’re an idiot and spent it all on alcohol and shit food, you’ve fallen out with folk cos you can’t see them due to revision, your family is giving you a hard time for whatever reason, do you just leave uni and walk out? No. That would be you losing.

You cannot let it beat you.

Some nights you’ll be exactly how I have been. You’ll be awake, worrying about everything and thinking “Is it really worth it”/”Whats the point in carrying on anymore”/”I’m a waste of space, I’m a waste of a life, I’m a burden to others”.. Let me tell you that you’re not. You effect so many peoples lives without knowing. You’ve got to open your eyes and believe that people do like you, they do want to see you but more importantly they want to see you happy.

There’s been a couple of times in wrestling where I’ve felt like I’m getting nowhere and felt like just slowly fading out into the distance and nobody would notice. Fact of the matter is, nobody would notice. But I need wrestling to keep me going. It’s a huge part of my life now and I’m pretty happy. I’m damn proud to be a British Professional Wrestler and this year I feel like I’m beginning to make something of it. It’s really picking up and I haven’t even scratched the surface yet. I have some of the top guys in wrestling looking out for me and helping me out, encouraging me and telling me that I’m going to do well for myself. That praise is always something I’m hugely grateful for as I feel like I’ve earned it myself. I earned it because I never gave up when my demons were eating me from the inside and I’m allowed to proud of that because of how low I was and how bad things really had gotten. I’m no different to anyone else. I’m not special at all. I’m not above anyone at all. But I am stubborn as hell. I am determined too. Two of the reasons why I am still here and why I am wrestling as often as I can, injured or not, depressed or not, and training almost every day whether it be in the gym or ring.
Wrestling is my escapism and I owe a lot to wrestling.

I bloody love it.

Find your own escapism.

It does not matter what it is or whether people love it or hate it. I got stick for wrestling at first, I still do now, due to small minded morons that have no depth or perception of how to actually LIVE how you want to live. Them people mosey on through life secretly wishing they had done something with themselves. Fuck them. However, most of them message/come up to me when they see me like “Oh I see your wrestling is going really well man, that’s well cool, how did you get into that? Class to see you’re doing so well!”… Them people, fuck them. Hard. Utter arseholes.

And breathe….

Credit: Darren Potts

I’ve written this because it is such a common and misunderstood illness and it needs to be treated with care. I’ve had people talk to me about it since the post I did on Facebook and some of the people that had spoken to me, were suffering in silence. “WERE”. Now they’re speaking to professionals, going to the doctors and also speaking to me from time to time to keep them on track.

I cannot stress enough that this isn’t about me airing all my own shit. I haven’t barely touched what sort of things I’ve been through, my actual thoughts during my down time and where I went in my own head. This is about me trying to raise awareness about depression within wrestling and outside of it too, to be honest. I’m just showing that it can effect anyone. Even if its not you but you suspect a close friend or relative is having a hard time dealing with their own demons, talk to them. Easy as that. Let’s all just stop being shit humans and help.

Fuck, I need to wrap this up as I have droned on.

In closing, I have to say, I’m very much in control of my own head. My demons are at bay at the moment. Yeah, I have my down days and they come in pretty heavy but all in all, I am OK. Proving that anyone else can be good after it all too!
Its possible to get over it, there is a light at the end of every tunnel and all that. Lets face it, if I was still how I was for the past god knows how many years, then I wouldn’t be able to write this now, would I?

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading, I hope its helped somehow.

Thank you to Wrestle Ropes for giving me the platform to speak out on and offering me to write for you, much appreciated.

I won’t be doing this sort of thing again in any rush as from now on I want to focus more on being positive and my wrestling career. However, if you have any questions, feel free to ask, I’m fairly approachable unless I’m hungry.
Take it easy, stay safe folks!


*We would like to give our unreserved thanks to Chris Ridgeway for writing such an open and honest the article for the website.


Additional thanks to Nik Towers for his artowk used in the article. Check out his artwork at Wrestling Artwork NT.