Chris Ridgeway: Wrestling, Depression & I – Chapter II


So, here we go again.
Hope you’re all well, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything. I’ve had to do this all on my phone so bare with me if there are any typos or nonsensical uses of words etc etc.

So I first wrote an article on suffering with this illness a while back and it struck chords with a few people and every now and then I’ll still get messages thanking me for it. First of all, you don’t need to thank me. Really, it’s lovely that people do but that’s not what this is about. It’s not about me. I’m just using the platform, that I am blessed to have as a professional wrestler, to promote awareness for something that’s very close to my heart in mental illness, and I’m in a position where I can make myself vulnerable to others to really try and portray how depression/anxiety effects me and so many others everyday. I can do this because I’ve accepted it.

That’s what you gotta do I’m afraid. First step is accepting it.

Then and only then can you begin to fight off your demons.
Now I’ve been battling this for years and years, much longer than I originally knew when I was actually diagnosed with it. When I wrote the first article I thought that was that, I had beaten it and off I went to carry on with my life.
False. (Read that aloud like Dwight Schrute from the US office, make this seem fun…somehow?)
I had not beaten it.
Not even close!
This brings me to this article… Chapter 2, if you will.

Now since then, some things have gone great and some things have gone terribly.
I have hit rock bottom more times than I would have let anybody known. Up until 5am in tears for unexplainable reasons and then waking up at 7:30 due to stressing in my sleep. It had gotten that bad that a couple of times I have hallucinated because of it, genuinely terrifying stuff.

I’ve been given some fantastic opportunities within wrestling and I have some great things coming up. At the weekends when I’m away and travelling, at the gym and wrestling itself, I’m on top of the world. Best feeling ever. I love it. I love it all. This is the best job in the world in my opinion. I am so proud to be a professional wrestler from Britain.
Then I go back to reality…that’s when it starts to kick in. Sometimes even late on a Sunday night or an early Monday morning when I’m travelling home, I start to feel sick and upset in general because I start to feel like I have no purpose. I imagine if you’re a wrestler and you’re reading this you probably get it. Now imagine that with a million anxious thoughts, constant paranoia and the cripplingly depressive thoughts going round in your head about how empty you feel now you’re done.

Sometimes in locker rooms, I look around and wonder if anyone is the same as me and in actuality I feel like there isn’t and that I’m a bit of a freak.
However when I think about it from the outside, I’d put £10 on the fact there are 2/3 other guys in the same place that think the same.

No matter what sort of work you are in, I bet you can relate if you suffer from the same illness. “Is anyone the same as me?” “Am I the only one?” “I feel very alone right now” – these phrases/thoughts sound familiar? Thought so. I’m a fucking psychic mate.
I definitely wouldn’t say I’ve beaten my demons or anything of the sort, but I feel I know how to control them at certain times and keep them at bay when I need to, so I don’t have the same nasty/scary thoughts as I used to.

I STILL hate what I see in the mirror.
I STILL hate the way I look.
I STILL often wish I was a bigger dude or was in better shape etc etc.
One time, quite recently, I look at myself 15 mins before I went out and I walked into the toilets and felt like throwing up due to how fed up I was of looking like shit despite how hard a try and work on myself. Actual tears. Slapped myself out of it and carried on. That’s what you’ve gotta do.
I’m still working on it, every single day, as hard as I can. I’ve become obsessed with making myself better aesthetically and that translates to making myself better mentally. Image is a huge deal in wrestling and in society in general today. So I figure, if I look good, I’m going to feel good. Which is the priority (no pun intended) for me. But that’s for me personally and you need to find out your priority (oh what the hell, pun intended) to make yourself feel better. I can’t give you answers, you’ve gotta figure them out as yourself, I can give you a whole bunch of words that can make you think, though.

Something I’ve learned and something to bear in mind is that everyone is different. Everyone reacts in different circumstances.
If you say to me “oh you have a shit beard” I wouldn’t care (cos I know it’s great and so would they deep down)
But in all seriousness I wouldn’t. However, if you said it to someone else, that may be their goddamn pride and joy and even saying that in jest could suggest you kind of meant it, which could make them feel awful, even if they laugh it off; they then overthink that for weeks to come, cos of one tiny comment. I’m not saying never joke around with people, it’s a weird example, but my point is everyone is different. Everyone reacts differently to different situations regardless of how similar you may think everyone is.

I’ve been lucky enough to be able to talk about these things with good friends that know how I feel. Pip (bubblegum) is one of my best friends both in and out of wrestling. I know that if I ever needed someone he’s there straight away. It’s important to try and console in someone but also know when to give it back.
Also, big shout out to Matt Myers for his article on anxiety, he and I spoke about this and I’m proud of him for it, I learned more about anxiety too, very relatable article that I urge people to check out.

Sometimes I find it hard to face anyone. Some days I’ll sit in my house, cook/eat, watch wrestling, take my dog out and hit the gym late at night when there’s barely any people there. And you know what, I think that’s OK sometimes. Sometimes I think it’s fine if your big goal of the day is to get up and get out of your house. Just make sure you don’t make it a regular thing, make sure you set yourself a couple goals a week. Then next week, them goals have to get bigger and so on and so forth.
And then by the end of the year, you should be King/Queen of your country and take over the world….or maybe just feel like it? I dunno, I don’t really want to promote world domination but I just kind of did. Cool.

As you can tell, this has been less of an article more of a thought list, I hope it’s helped in whatever way.
Just know that whatever your mental illness, you cannot let it beat you, regardless of the severity. You have to keep on keepin’ on and fight until you can one day turn around and say that you’re proud of yourself, you’ve accomplished what you want in spite of your demons and you’re the fucking dogs bollocks because of everything you did, for yourself, by yourself.

Be nice to people, you don’t know what they’re dealing with on this day.
Be defiant. (I live by that, corny bastard aren’t I)
Become obsessed to be better.
Most important – try to be happy.
Peacin’ out,
Chris x

*Side note*
I will not tweet about depression and the likes, this article is there to say everything I’d like to say about the subject. This is about raising more awareness and to show it effects people that you wouldn’t expect, not to share gossip or anything of the sort.
Thank you so much if you have read this.
A huge shout to all the boys and girls backstage at shows that make my life so much fun, to every promotion that books me and helps me lead a much happier life through wrestling and to Wrestle Ropes for the platform once again,
all my love.