Originally, I wanted to title this blog “Dating with Depression” but quickly discarded that phrase for “Dating through Depression”. Then I went back to the original title. You see, that’s what it’s like for me on the rollercoaster dating with depression.
The difference between the two may be unnoticeable to someone without depression. But for those of us that need to rally each morning to get out of bed, we completely understand that each day we are living WITH depression and will never come “through” to the other side. It’s a daily battle that has varying levels of intensity and pressure we must face to contribute to our families, businesses, and friends.
If you’ve been following the Believe Be Real Be Bold podcast for a while, you know that I am a full time strength coach. For three years, I ran a fitness studio in Denver, Co. but before that, I built my business in someone else’s studio space near downtown. My business plan aimed to keep expenses low while striving to reach clients all across the world with the Fit Life Champions online fitness and nutrition programs.
You may have also picked up on another detail by listening to the podcast. I’ve battled depression for over 20 years and found success using fitness and nutrition to keep my mental health and emotions balanced. I found that when you add an unhealthy relationship on top of parenting and business ownership, you begin to uncover your personal blind spots really quick.
There’s only so much time that someone can spend unhappy in a relationship for these major reasons; when financially, mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritual needs aren’t being met. What ended this specific relationship was the financial and spiritual pillars of my optimal health in the relationship.
Summer five years ago was dark for me. I had ended a serious relationship and I was questioning my direction in life. I spent a lot of time at home with my thoughts, my roommate, and my new dog, Chloe. I thought that adopting a dog was the answer and would fill the void left when the relationship ended. Since then, Chloe has become a blessing in my life but I realized quickly that it was an impulse decision and an expensive one at that; I had to spay her and recently she had a mass removed from her forehead!
I look back on that summer and I wished I could have been enjoying it with all of my heart because I was free of the negative perception that money was scarce that existed in my relationship. However, I couldn’t because the depression had crept in and it was all that I could do to wake up, go to work, come home, and repeat each day. It was at that time that I truly looked within myself and wrote the article, 10 Reasons why Exercise Combats Anxiety and Depression for the Fit Life Champions website.
I barely dated that summer. Realizing deep down that wouldn’t be a solution to my personal struggles.
Up until that point, I was battling major depression and I wasn’t talking to anyone about it. Instead, I was retreating and isolating myself from the Fit Life community that I had invested so much of my heart and soul into the previous year. I reflect back on that summer and I had a lot of things going for me; my business grew to $50k that year, I was boxing and weightlifting three times per week while reaching the best physical shape of my life. Physically and financially, I was surviving and I thank God for that.
But my mental, emotional, and spiritual pillars of optimal health were suffering along with my energy to wake up and go to work each day.
I’m not easy to date, then or now. I have really high standards and low expectations. I am exploring that area of my love life right now and have found two very important needs I have in a relationship, which I welcome you to read about in the recent blog post, The Missing Pieces.
Even now when dating in Denver and after all of the personal growth I’ve come through, I overthink everything. That’s where I see anxiety come to the surface and the self-sabotage begin. My mind wants to connect the dots between seen and unseen truths when I am seeing someone; that’s a natural behavior as it is our survival mechanism kicking in.
I would later hear my jiu-jitsu professor Elliot Marshall at Easton Training Center say, “Anxiety is depression’s cousin. You can’t have one without the other.” Please join me sometime for a free class to understand what jiu-jitsu can do to improve mental health. Just drop my name and they’ll set you up!
I have my ups and downs (as most of us do) but when you’re battling anxiety and depression, those swings are further apart on the spectrum.
I finally became conscious to the fact that I was experiencing the same patterns in my relationships but I was too prideful to seek out help. That is until I was facing rock bottom. I went through two break ups in 2017 and when I finally began dating again, I couldn’t believe what I found. Instead of getting frustrated and quit dating, I began the podcast to build a community of authentic people in Denver and beyond.
For as long as I’ve hosted the podcast, I have heard the same question, “Dave, why can’t there be more guys like you?”
Well, it’s because until today, until right now… I wasn’t the best version of myself. I’ve been angry, sad, a typical “Nice Guy”, and manipulative in the past. I don’t wish for there to be more men like the old me. I wish there were more men like me as I am today and every day forth. That’s why I am so passionate about serving you through your relationship challenges, because that’s where we see repeated patterns in our lives. More-so there than in any other facet of our lives.
This is the version of men I would like to see more of, healthily healing their wounds so that they can lead other men and boys to better experiences in life. Until now, I wasn’t confident enough in my relationship coaching (even through the Enneagram) to coach men to the best of my ability. But after coming through the darkest tunnel of my life, truly better off now than ever before, I am truly ready to fulfill my life’s purpose set forth for me by God.
I have continuously listened to the repeated message God has given me through tough life lessons and quiet church services. At church, I feel as if it’s just him and I having a conversation about my life and it’s meaning. The men’s group helps immensely too.
I wouldn’t wish my journey on anyone, not even an enemy. But I do wish that everyone comes out the other side as I have, better off than before. More resilient than they were and more capable of love than any previous version of the broken man I was.
I wouldn’t say all that if I didn’t have a solution to the growing problems men face in our world today. We are expected to be the leaders of our families, gentle in our hearts, and tough on our feet. There is as much pressure on men as there is on women these days to perform to the levels of expectation American culture has placed on them.
I have used fitness and nutrition to level out my depression for the past 22 years. It began with running to and from the gym my freshman year in college. Then came weightlifting, boxing, and finally jiu-jitsu. Sprinkle in some yoga in there and you have a pretty amazing recipe for personal growth through exercise, as intense as you would like it to be.
As I began to grow my business, I realized that inflammatory foods were affecting my clients lives more than I had anticipated and as their leader, I had to make the commitment to treat my body as best I could. So I cut out sugar, processed foods, coffee, and gluten. Eliminating these inflammatory foods made my body function to its optimal levels. I was less irritable and my knees and joints didn’t hurt as often, which leads to more exercise! I hope you’re beginning to see the connection between exercise and an upward spiral in mental health!
That wasn’t quite enough for me to reach my goals. I needed to turn inward, so I picked up an inspirational and life changing book, The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks, and uncovered my core limiting beliefs. Then came more self-awareness and personal discovery through the Enneagram and I began to turn the corner toward a healthier mental health status.
At that time, I began to see the connection between mental health and mind body connection so I chose to influence my clients’ lives with a solid foundation of health in the following video. At this time, I chose to speak on three strong principles that I believed would help my clients move closer to their goals.
I was wrong. There was still so much more I had to learn and I realized I had forgotten a huge piece of the puzzle, my spiritual connection with God and my financial health.
More details coming soon on how I bring the 5 Pillars of Optimal Health into my life, so stay tuned for that and more by signing up for our newsletter here.
What does all of that have to do with dating with depression? Dating can be stressful and may cause anxiety and indecision (or making the wrong decisions) if we aren’t sticking to our self-care routine. Along with anxiety, comes the swings back to depression where we tend to isolate and distance ourselves from others.
Regular exercise, proper nutrition, and healthy boundaries can improve self-confidence and decrease stress while dating in the modern, swipe right culture! That’s a huge correlation I have discovered as a strength coach, mentor, and enneagram fanatic over the past few years.
So remember, if you are waiting until you are perfect to enter a relationship, you will be waiting a long time. There is no such thing as arriving at a point in your life that you are perfect. Your best course of action is to be authentic, transparent, and vulnerable with a partner you can trust wholeheartedly that will listen to your story with empathy and without judgement.
Choose wisely my friends. Stay single until you find someone that values you as much as you value yourself. Repeat to yourself this mantra, “I am worthy. I deserve real, strong, lasting love.”
If you are looking for more ways to decrease stress while dating today, schedule a quick call with Dave by viewing his online calendar here.