Anxiety Driven

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Anxiety Driven is real, raw and uncut.  It is expression through creative writing and personal messages shared by MMA athlete Jens Pulver and creative writer Todd Smith.  Together, Jens and Todd have created a place to empty their heart and mind while living life with anxiety and depression.  Unified with a message to stop living in the dark and step into the light…knowing peace is attainable, it exists and will be achieved.  Welcome to “Anxiety Driven”.

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A Jens Pulver with no direction...

Oct 17

10/17/2012 6:35 PM  RssIcon

I lose my direction from time to time and get extremely depressed for days.  Looking back I realise that I have always had this problem.  My mom first noticed it when I won the wrestling state title my Sophomore year.  There was such a big build up for that state title, and some how I found myself living out a fantasy season. 

A season that I would day dream about having all those times I sat alone just shadow wrestling, or out on the road running during those quiet hours where it was just me, my heart beat, and my thoughts.  You know that scene in a movie where it's the main character VS "the Foe" and they battle it out in an epic match in front of thousands.... where the main character turns the tide and scores a heroic victory capturing the title of "State Champion."  That was my dream.

A few weeks before the state finals we had our last home match of the season;  I was on a winning streak, and was a favorite to be in the top four.  I walked out, onto the mat and recieved a beating. He beat me from bell to bell, and scored an eight point victory.  I am not sure who was more shocked, myself who just took a beating or the crowd who just witnessed my first loss ever at home.  Either way it struck a match and lit a fire in me that just consumed me.  

The next weekend was the League tournament, top three go to regionals and I had no doubt in my mind where I was heading.  I was heading to the finals, and if Morris (the Foe in this story) had what it took I would see him there.  Sure enough that is how it played out.  We square off again under the spotlight literally.  They would darken the Gym leaving only one light on... a spotlight that sat right over the mat as if to highlight the two battling for first place.  Again the match was Epic: 10..I felt him shoot in,  9...he was driving,  8.. he is getting around my legs, 7..oh damn,  6...he has it locked, 5...he is lifting, 4...I am up, 3...I am down, 2.. he gets the takedown, 1.. he was victorious once again.  

I made a vow to myself that night; I will not lose to him again.  I trained like a savage all week and headed to regionals.  The hype is picking up about the two battles going to Morris, and everyone wondered if the Sophomore Pulver could get this done or does the Senior Morris have his number. Here we go again, its the night of the Regional finals and we are about to wrestle for the third time.  With only short time I score the last takedown to get the win 3-2 and become regional champ.  The tears of joy were bitter-sweet, because that night ended and the week we go to state began.  I took no time to enjoy it, jumped back into practice to be the best I could be on Saturday night.  There was no doubt in my mind that I was going to the finals, and we will see if Morris will be there waiting.  

Sure enough, the daydream became a reality.  I was in this epic battle that lasted four weeks. If everything goes according to plan, then its Morris and I in the finals. This time in front of 25 thousand strong we stepped out into the center of the Tacoma dome to see this thing through.  I didnt realize it at the time, but when I hit my reversal to score two points I thought it was for the victory.  As I looked up at the score card, I realised that I was two behind with short time and had actually just tied it up.   The match ended in a tie.  We needed more rounds, so we go into overtime.  As it should; this battle could only be finished with a sudden death.  As I scored the winning takedown, my body went numb.  I didn't know what it was going to feel like until it happened.  I had just achieved my dream.  My goal.  I had just won the state title.  The joy was insane, the smiles were all across my family and friends' faces.  I was overwhelmed at the fact that I could bring that kind of emotion to others.  There were so many people who really cared about me, even if it was for that one match, one season, one moment.  What a day...

Then the morning came, and I was just sitting there.  Had no energy to get up, and no desire to see anyone.  There was only one thought pounding in my head.."what do I do now?" I had no direction, no goal to achieve; and I fell into a dark place.  Fit as a champ and had no energy to move.  People were still pumped at what I had done, and it mattered little to me because I had no idea how I was going to bring that kind of joy to everyone again.  I was spinning downward, and really starting to hit my bottom.  I had just climbed to the peak only to fall once I got there. 

 My life has been that repeated climb.  So many times I have missed out on the simple pleasures in life due to the fact that I was too busy hustling up the hill to get to my next goal. Never did I truly realize that I was missing out on so much.  My depression made me addicted to having a direction.  Even something so simple as beating a level in a PC game.  Once I found my new direction, the smile would return (thank god for baseball and freestyle wrestling) and I would carry out new goals and achievements.  People ask why not turn that direction towards something that has a longer climb, I say How? Could have saved me a lot of time stolen by depression.  Then you tack anxiety onto that depression, and you have just put the toughest opponent of my life out on the mat with me.  I have yet to figure out how to beat him.  This intangible foe with no face.  I sit here this week after my last fight, and I am humbled that I have once again lost to anxiety and depression like every other time I do something great; I become scared.  Winning the world title was incredible, and also short lived because I spent the whole time looking up and waiting for the other shoe to drop and bring me the misery that was soon to follow.  I never enjoyed what I achieved because anxiety and depression would not let me.  Every time something good happens, here comes that shot in the head to take me down and show me that I cant run from anxiety n depression. 

I am once again sitting and spinning.  My mind is working furiously to find some kind of direction, if anything the direction to sit my ass down and hang with my family should be enough but I am addicted to climbimg and reaching my a goal.  I battle every day with this. How badly do I wish anxiety had a weight class so that I could gain/lose the weight, and beat the shit out of it in the cage.  It doesnt work that way, because I have tried every way possible to beat it.  All that happens is I punish myself, and beat myself down for having it.  

I thank all of you for always supporting and taking the time to read this.  I cant even begin to thank all the people of my past who have always extended their hands to lift me up.  My wife and kids for making life slow down and giving me a reason to wake up.  #NVRFLYSOLO, you're not alone and we are here.  Remember to lift someone up and build them, lets start a movement so that those days of being lost without a direction can be lessened and we can overwhelm the negative thoughts with positive moments in our lives.  Lets get off the hill and walk on the sand, where its nice and level and the rollercoaster of emotions are tamed.  Be good everyone and stay in touch.

Jens aka Lil Evil

Categories: Anxiety Driven

33 comment(s) so far...

Re: A Jens Pulver with no direction...

Your fight has inspired many around you. Always #showyourstrength

By Matt on   10/17/2012 6:52 PM

Re: A Jens Pulver with no direction...

I use to train at Miletich's gym for a couple years while I was in College. There were a couple of times I was hitting the heavy bag in the afternoon between classes and you took the time to stop me and give me a few pointers (we're talking roughly 6 years ago).

Those few minutes of an ex Champ taking time to help me out inspires me to this day. It might be difficult for you to find direction from time to time, but the impact you leave on others is tremendous. At least it was for me.

By Brandon on   10/17/2012 6:57 PM

Re: A Jens Pulver with no direction...

What a post. It highlights the inner battles, and shows you that training physically is only part of the equation.

By z on   10/17/2012 7:09 PM

Re: A Jens Pulver with no direction...

Hey Jens. Thanks so much for putting this out there. What are some of things that you do when you feel anxious that help you through the day? What are some of your affirmations to get through it? Thanks again man for shedding light on this topic. I am in the middle of the battle and it helps to see others pushing through all of the junk that comes with anxiety/depression.

Much love.

By Jeremy on   10/17/2012 7:10 PM

Re: A Jens Pulver with no direction...

Thank you for the blog post Jens. It was almost like I was reading something about myself aside from all the bad ass details :) I have had similar issues of striving for something and then once I achieve it, I get depressed. I'm slowly learning to dig at what is causing it. For me, it goes back to when I was a kid. I think everyone has people around them that don't believe in their abilities or tell us we can't achieve certain goals. For years I heard that from my dad. I always believed I could do whatever I set out to but that doubt and fear lingered in the back of my still does. It's that notion of "what if he is right?" and I constantly expect it to show it's ugly face because as a parent, he must know better than me. But that isn't the case.

Sometimes our thoughts get away from us and we lose perspective in the sense that we make things out to be larger than they are. Something that has helped me is that whatever the issue may be, I sit down and write concrete facts of what I know is true about a situation and what I am assuming could be true and then what is absolutely false. When it is there in writing, you have something concrete to look at that does not change regardless of the mind games we play on ourselves in depression. Maybe try that and I hope it helps.

You are a huge inspiration to so many people. I'm glad you're relatable to your fans as well. Thanks for taking the time to be honest and shed some light on your personal side. Keep kickin ass, Jens!

By Amin on   10/17/2012 7:12 PM

Re: A Jens Pulver with no direction...

Thanks Jens pulver for sharing a bit of your life with us,you
Been an inspirational person to me on how a person could change.
If you choose to.thanks brother for being the same and speaking your
Wise words..
Stay up lil evil
Your friend and # 1 fan Chris

By chris lopez on   10/17/2012 7:25 PM

Re: A Jens Pulver with no direction...

Tahoma Bears suck! Sorry Jens, got caught up in your story & being a Kentwood Conqueror had to represent. Thanks for continuing to share your insecurities. I sure feel a helluva a lot more human knowing I'm not alone in my struggles. Stay great Jens!

By Brian Belisle on   10/17/2012 7:36 PM

Re: A Jens Pulver with no direction...

I'm on the road and reading brother. Got me tearing up. Been waiting for a post like this from you. Thanks for bringing your truth and heart to the table. #NvrFlySolo. We got this...

By Todd W. Smith on   10/17/2012 7:40 PM

Re: A Jens Pulver with no direction...

Thank you for posting this blog. I know there are many people who suffer with depression ,my mom was one of them. She had what some. People now all " empty nest syndrome. Call it whatever you want depression or empty nest syndrome. It is real and alive in the world. Things like this will help because it brings out to light that someone who is in the spotlight can suffer with this too. Best of luck to you Jens and God Bless you and your family.

By Becky Logan on   10/17/2012 8:33 PM

Re: A Jens Pulver with no direction...

I felt like I was reading a peice that my husband had written. Thank you for articulating what i have been struggling with to try to put into words. Thank you for being raw, real and so heartfelt. What you shared is nothing short of amazing.

By Carmela on   10/17/2012 8:33 PM

Re: A Jens Pulver with no direction...

You aren't alone in this. While I've never been a champ at anything, as a lifelong musician I've had many similar experiences. Music contests in high school were similar. I had lost the trumpet solo competition my sophomore year to a junior, and vowed to win it the next year, so it was a similar thing of working and working to be the best, finally going in and winning, and then....then there was no goal, at least not for the next year. He graduated that year and I was pretty much unopposed the following year.

I'm still the same way - I get such highs from playing great gigs, and I know that if I don't continue to push, play another gig, have another performance, do something else where I get that buzz, that thrill in the moment where I feel the most alive, I'm going to drop into a funk. It's a struggle I deal with all the time.

Great article - I'm looking forward to more of them. Thanks for always being an inspiration!

By Patrick Gleason on   10/17/2012 8:57 PM

Re: A Jens Pulver with no direction...

I started following you beginning with the season you coached the ultimate fighter against BJ and have been inspired by every twist and turn you've taken since. Your toughness (mentally and physically) and thd candor with which you share that it doesn't come easy for you but you keep fighting truly inspires me to never let defeats in life keep me from continuing to fight. Thank you for the example you set. I hope very much to meet you one day.

By Glenn Hollingsworth on   10/17/2012 9:51 PM

Re: A Jens Pulver with no direction...

I started following you beginning with the season you coached the ultimate fighter against BJ and have been inspired by every twist and turn you've taken since. Your toughness (mentally and physically) and thd candor with which you share that it doesn't come easy for you but you keep fighting truly inspires me to never let defeats in life keep me from continuing to fight. Thank you for the example you set. I hope very much to meet you one day.

By Glenn Hollingsworth on   10/17/2012 9:55 PM

Re: A Jens Pulver with no direction...

This is a great post. You are lucky in the fact that you are aware of when you slip into the anxiety and depressive state. Some people cannot identify it and break out of the state, your drive to meet the a new goal breaks you out and moves you away from the depression and provides relief. For me I am a jack of all trades master of none and as someone told me i enjoy being half pregnant with whatever hobby I get into -this is a recurring cycle for me as i tend to set goals but never complete them. At least i learn a lot during the process of trying to reach the goal maybe it is fear of success or fear of having achieved the goal. I am 42 and am nearly a purple belt in BJJ the goal is black belt and i am well aware that i may never achieve it but will enjoy the journey anyway...

By Chris Barry on   10/17/2012 10:08 PM

Re: A Jens Pulver with no direction...

I hope u realize that u have touched so many people with your blog whether they are fighters, just regular people, etc. I always knew u were a wonderful and stand up guy since I have been watching u fight in mma just by the things u said and the way u carried yourself. Keep it up cuz u really help a lot of people no matter what type of background they come from. I personally will continue to follow what u say and to leave comments when something particularly touches me.

By susan walker on   10/18/2012 12:15 AM

Re: A Jens Pulver with no direction...

jens your so inspiring man your words defintely keep my head up and keep me going youve been my fighting inspiration since i saw your fight vs naoya uematsu i took up boxing and and little jiu jitsu youve defintely help me keep my head up when things dont go my way thankyou so much for that

By tyler scholz on   10/19/2012 11:41 AM

Re: A Jens Pulver with no direction...

Great story Jens. It was an inspiration to read... you would be a great friend to have...

By Eric Paul Wessner on   10/19/2012 6:03 PM

Re: A Jens Pulver with no direction...

I just wanted to jump in and express great gratitude to those who have shared. All of us are pressing on together! All of us have a choice and a chance to look to the person next to us and say: "I got you" Shine a light my friends. I appreciate all of you! #NvrFlySolo

By Todd W. Smith on   10/19/2012 6:13 PM

Re: A Jens Pulver with no direction...

I see this with my husband after he deploys with the Air Force, a loss of direction and how to process everything. As a psych nurse who deals everyday with depressed people at their lowest, (and love my job)-- people like you help to break down the misconceptions of depression and anxiety. It is everywhere, places we don't even expect. -Mollie

(went to Tahoma Jr High and 2 years in high school with you-- keep doing what you do!)

By Mollie on   10/26/2012 12:55 PM

Re: A Jens Pulver with no direction...

Alot like ptsd,thats so healthy gettin that out we are so blessed an proud to have u an yours in our extended clan keep on doing, the best to come is in u future.

By capt jv on   10/28/2012 9:43 PM

Re: A Jens Pulver with no direction...

I watched your DVD last night. I watched it because I am a fight fan. A UFC fan and Jens Pulver is my favorite fighter. I thought it would be interesting to watch a documentary about "what it's like to be an MMA fighter". My expectations were high and I was hoping to hear about all the tricks and techniques that fighters work on, while preparing for a fight. To see the pain and determination it takes to be a world class athlete. My expectations turned out to be pointed in the wrong direction. You see, all of my expectations were met, but in a different context. I learned what it's like to "fight" emotion, depression, anxiety, stress and what it takes to be a world class Father and Husband.

I also suffer from Anxiety and Depression. It has defined me for most of my life. I became an alcoholic to numb the pain. But one day I decided I didn't want to "fly solo" any more. I reached out to my Family for help and they provided it. I am now 3 years sober and in the best shape of my 39 year old life. I am recently married and 6 weeks before my marriage, my stepson committed suicide. He suffered from depression and quite possibly, undiagnosed bi-polar. I believe that my journey through depression has prepared me for this point in my life. It's taught me about the pain my stepson must have been feeling. It's reminded me that mental illness still carries a stigma. A strong enough stigma that my stepson did not feel comfortable reaching out for help. He tried to fly solo and it failed. I have taken all of this and am working to make changes in my community. Working with the schools and government officials to bring a mental health curriculum into the schools. To talk about this illness and not treat it like a taboo subject. Most of my work so far has been "shot down" by the schools. But I continue to push. Seeing your DVD and reading your blog has re-energized me. It's lit a fire under my ass to remember that I owe it to my stepson, to raise awareness about depression/anxiety and that it's OK to talk about this illness. So, thank you! Thank you for using your notoriety for a good cause and for standing up for what you believe. KEEP IT UP MAN!

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By ccdd001 on   9/3/2013 2:16 AM

Re: A Jens Pulver with no direction...

Not alone.

Your words are inspiring and I am 40.

Thank you is all I can say.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I have a 4 year old and my last name had bad connotations for me as the family was abusive, alcoholics and addicts. A father who turned away his kids and his own grand kids.

I was a name I detested. I hated to see it or hear it. I didn't want my daughter to have it. I was a terrible embarrassment of what it represented.

I will fight as hard as Incan to make that name something she will be proud of and stand up for.

Your words with JJDW led me here and I am so glad I found someone who feels the same way I felt my whole life. If someone asked me to describe myself they would think how little I thot of myself and how much self hatred and disgust I had for myself. No matter what info, it's never enough to make me good.

Thanks man. Thanks

And that has nothing to do with the awesome Lil Evil Jens Pulver kickin some tail like no one I ever saw. Loved to watch you brawl man. Every single fight. Win lose or draw. I was pulling for u every single one (me and the wife). Every one you came to bang! And that's just Lil Evil, totally besides the point.

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