This week the Jiu-Jitsu community lost 2 people to mental illness. One who struggled with depression and the other struggled with addiction. One of these guys trained at my gym the other guy had been in my gym many times over the last 20 years.
Depression is real, and suicide is at an all time high these days. I believe everyone has at one time in their life battled depression or will. And sadly sometimes the depression ultimately wins. Addiction is another internal demon that far too many these days are fighting.
My former student who passed this week relapsed. He had always stayed sober while he was training at the gym, but had to move for a job opportunity. He used Jiu-Jitsu as a part of his recovery and sobriety, and I do think it really helped him.
Finding a community that helps you is important. Purpose and Tribe are important.
Mental health in the United States is an after thought. People don't factor in mental health enough into major decisions. At my gym I have people that are using Jiu-Jitsu to help heal from PTSD, depression, anxiety, and addiction. They have told me how Jiu-Jitsu has improved their lives more than anything else they have tried. We have a running joke in our community that Jiu-Jitsu is therapy. I see a lot a truth in that statement. I have saw students turn down job opportunities because they were going to have to leave the gym. I havestudents that drive over an hour to come train because they say gym is worth it.
Why is a Jiu-Jitsu gym different than a regular gym like 24 hour fitness? When a average gym goer enters a 24hr fitness they can attempt to better themselves. In basically complete isolation. You can put in your headphones in and ignore everyone that is around. When you enter a Jiu-Jitsu gym you join a class training with someone that you have nothing in common with. It forces you to have conversations.
You have Doctors, Lawyers, police officers, constructions workers. And any other professions you can imagine training together. When you train together you eventually find individuals that you bond with. You are forced to get to know strangers and you eventually become friends with some of them. . Everyone in the class is trying to improve themselves.
This common goal of improvement helps to bond together the individuals. You are an individual in an individual sport working together as a team. Your team relies on each other for growth and improvement. Everyday you have somewhere you need to be to help be of service to others and yourself. You have friends waiting to see you, friends who encourage your growth and progress.
Why is this important? Why should people that have addiction or depression issues need to train Jiu-Jitsu? With addiction you are replacing one unhealthy addicition with a very healthy one.
You do not have to rewire as many pathways with different kind of addiction. You are also replacing a toxic community of addicts with a group of positive humans. By joining this community of like minded people. You are surrounding yourself with people trying to improve themselves as humans.
With depression this community plays a huge role also. My night classes can have around 60 students per class. That is 60 people who you can call. 60 People who will be asking where you are if you aren't showing up. 60 people who invite you to get together, weddings, birthday parties. 60 people to hold you accountable to your goals.
Jiu Jitsu has added mental health benefits in the exercise endorphins it brings you. Exercise itself has some pretty comparable stats next to antidepressants.
Fighting for your life also brings you to the most present state of mind. Folks spend years meditating trying to get to that place. You have to clear your mind completely and focus on the present moment when stuck beneath someone that out weights you by 50 pounds.