mental health

Roller Derby Stopped Saving Me, Pt. 2

Photo © Tom Klubens
Dead Eyes © My Miserable Feelings

I reached out. I took the right steps, or what I felt was probably the right steps.

I talked to friends that weren’t on my team. My team had shit to do, playoffs to prepare for, their own feelings to take care of. I tried to keep most of them out of it and away from it. I don’t know if I did a very good job of that, but I think they know I was trying my best.

“Oh that’s normal. That’s just burn out.” Burn out. It’s just burn out? I guess it’s just burn out. If my life were a television series, this is where the narrator would say, “But it wasn’t just burn out.” I’m sorry if you are here reading this, hoping I would say, “It’s just burn out! Here’s some tips!”

Look, burn out is real! I am not denying that. If my feelings were a lot milder I would agree that I was experiencing the ever so common burn out.

I was doing the things to salvage my relationship with roller derby. I checked in with myself, I took time off, I dabbled in my past hobbies, I stepped back from my roles within the league. I practiced self care like it was my last saving grace.

No. This was more like… the heartbreak you experience after your first serious relationship. Your partner suddenly doesn’t love you. You’ve given them every stupid piece of your stupid self and they don’t want any of it any more. You start to wonder what’s wrong with you, how to put everything that’s broken back together. They can’t tell you what’s changed, but nothing is the same and it blindsides you. Why aren’t you good enough? Why is everyone else happy and having fun? Why can’t everyone see your stupid aching heart and your dumb empty eyes?

I did what I do when I don’t know what to do. I made a list of pros and cons. I would recommend this to anyone who struggles making any large decisions. Or small decisions. I hate making decisions!

My list may have looked like this:

Teammates = Family
Hard work

Feels like work
Scared to try the new, fun things
Even when things go well, it feels empty
Self loathing
Working hard doesn’t necessarily translate to being or feeling good

I don’t know. I don’t exactly remember. I just felt like the cons list was always growing and my pros didn’t outweigh the shit storm in my heart and in my head.

I reached out to my parents. If you’ve seen me skate or coach, you may have met them. If you weren’t introduced, you probably heard these two cheering over literally everyone else in the venue. They come to ALL of my games. They recognized this thing that lights me up and they’ve supported it a million percent since day one. I am really incredibly lucky.

“I don’t think I’m going to skate any more. I hate it.” “What?!” “I hate it. I hate being on my skates. It makes me miserable. I’m tired of trying and I’m tired of being sad and I just want to be done.” “Are you still going to coach?”




Hey! If you do think it’s burn out, or are curious, there are a lot of very helpful blogs on the topic. Here’s a few:
Roller Derby and Burnout
Ask Jam Slanders: Derby Burnout Help!
Avoiding Burnout
Avoid Burnout – Keep Derby Fun!
The Unintended Blowback of Roller Derby Burnout, and Why Roller Skating Will Always Rock My World

Posted by Jax in mental game, roller derby

Roller Derby Stopped Saving Me, Pt. 1

Photo © Purple Turtle Photography

Ever since I joined roller derby, it has been the overwhelming focus of my life. Fuck everything else, I found this sport and these humans and I finally feel whole for the first time in my entire life. I have always wanted to go to every practice, play in every scrimmage and every game, and put in all of the work I could. My passion for roller derby was this huge fire consuming me.

Imagine my surprise years later, for the first time, when the fire inside me started to dim and flicker. I blamed the amount of changes in my life. I started a full time desk job, my best friend moved, we were suddenly playing D1 level roller derby even though we had only skated against D2 teams. Those were a few of the changes. I tried to fight back. I finally started therapy and medication for my anxiety and depression (something I should have done long ago). I joined Crossfit to start more difficult strength training. I wanted to feel like myself again. I wanted that passion back. It worked, for a little bit, but not forever. Unfortunately, those things weren’t a magical fix.

2017 was a rough year for me. Everything felt so bad, so heavy, all the time. It was not what I remembered. My mental state deteriorated. Practice was no longer something I looked forward to. It felt like a second job that I HAD to go to, so I wouldn’t let my team down. There was always the question of: Would it be better if I went to practice, or would I be a fucking mess there? A lot of the times I pushed through it and broke in front of the people who made me feel whole. I wanted to show, despite what it often looked like, that I belonged, that I was working, and that this was what I wanted.

One scrimmage night I took a high block at the start of the jam. While this usually makes me snap for a few moments and then rage jam (“I’m gonna take your points, your momma’s points, your grandma’s points! You will regret besmirching my face!”), it didn’t this time. I immediately started sobbing, took myself off of the track, geared down, and went and sat in the parking lot and cried for a long time. This little thing, this relatively normal thing that happens to me, started an avalanche of emotions. I was constantly swallowing my feelings and just pushing them down into the void, hoping they would go away. Then things like this would briefly open that void and I would momentarily explode.

I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to feel like this any more. I am giving every bit of myself and nothing good is happening. This is too much. Why am I here? I feel so alone.

That would be the filtered, gentle version of the things that regularly ran through my mind. I still took myself to practice, determined to finish the season. Nothing felt good or right. I either felt overwhelmingly sad or completely dead inside. Most of the time I aimed for dead inside. When I was dead inside I could still show up and go through the motions and give the appearance like I was functioning alright. I could get lead jammer when I was dead inside, I was slightly more fearless when I was dead inside, I didn’t have melt downs at practice when I was dead inside. Dead inside is never the long term answer, friends.

I think I want to quit. I think I’m going to quit.

Posted by Jax in mental game, roller derby