There comes a time in everyone's life when we ask ourselves, "why me?" When it came to my life, I found myself always asking this. It started in second grade when I saw a therapist for what they had diagnosed as 'the worry problem'; this meant I worried about everything. When my parents left, I thought they would never come back, or when I spent the night at my grandma's house, I made her tape newspaper over the window so that a fox couldn't get in while I was sleeping.
Throughout my whole life the worry problem was predominant in all that I did, and it made me a perfect target for young teens to throw their merciless comments at. I was bullied because I was different, which I never understood because as human beings we are all made to be unique; we are made to stand out from one another. I constantly found myself asking WHY ME?
Amidst all of the pain and struggles, I was able to find volleyball as an outlet. As years went on, I clung to this sport and found it to be my passion. I made the volleyball team my first year in high school and was so proud that I made it that far, but when sophomore year came around I was told that there was not enough room on the team for me because I needed more practice. So, after eating a whole bag of cheese balls out of pure devastation, I decided to not give up and to hit the gym running. My junior year came around and man-oh-man was I worried. "What if I am not enough?", "What will everyone think if I fail again?" These thoughts played out in my head and my worst nightmare came to life. I was cut again.
I decided that at this point I couldn't turn back now. I was determined to keep on going and to keep on fighting. To my demise, my confidence took a turn for the worse in April of 2013. As I was training during the off season, I came home after a long day. And received a phone call that my grandpa who had been suffering with brain cancer had lost his battle with depression.
Here again, I found myself; WHY ME?
With my grandpa on my mind, I knew that I had to fight now more than ever to push myself towards making the team the next year. Guess what? I did. I made the team my senior year, and I even went on to play college volleyball. I worked hard during the summer going into my sophomore year of college and I pushed myself beyond limits I didn't even know existed. I came back to be captain of the team, and I found a passion for heavy lifting at a local gym called Powerstrength Training Systems where they helped me gear my mindset towards success and kick that worry problem I had been struggling with for so long. I felt on top of the world.
On November 29, 2015 my cousin Vivian lost her own battle with depression. One thing you need to understand is that we grew up together and Viv was like a sister to me and my brother; we were devastated. Vivian was on life support for five days until the machines were turned off after no signs of any brain function. The amount of questions and the roller coaster of emotions that follow losing someone to this disease is unbearable. I had suffered with depression since second grade; I should have been there for her. I could have saved her.
I took Vivian's death really hard and I tried to follow my passion for volleyball at Cornerstone University. I made it half-way through the season until my own battle with depression got the best of me. I decided to walk away from something I had worked so hard for. Many people said it was a terrible decision and that I "should just move on from her death".
The months that followed were very difficult and I found it in myself to keep on fighting. I knew that there were others out their struggling just as I was, but they were too afraid to use their own voice. I pursued becoming a public speaker and took a stand against suicide. I now have started my own volleyball club and I have spoken in front of one hundred people, a number that will just keep growing.
Recently, I found myself asking again. WHY ME?
On October 1, 2017, 18 days before my birthday, my dad passed away from a massive heart attack. When I found myself asking this, I realized I had found the answer. Because of everything I have been through I know that I can get through losing my dad. I know how to cope with death, and I know ways to deal with my depression and anxiety. I know I lost my grandpa and my cousin so that my words can heal others battling the same battles they were. I know I was cut from volleyball and bullied because now I have the tools to coach other young girls through the same situations.
If you ever find yourself asking the dreaded question of 'why me' remember this: You are worth more than your mistakes and your depression does not define you. You may not see it now, but one day there will be a reason for your pain. Without darkness we cannot appreciate the light. Never give up on yourself. Trust your battles and always keep on fighting. Through all of the wrong choices I made I found the most strength. Understand that being strong is allowing yourself to feel the pain you are going through. You are more than enough. Realize that you have greatness within yourself, and most of all realize that you are not alone. If I understand, there are others out there who understand too.
by Alex Polakovich
About the Author
Alex is from Grand Rapids, Michigan and has a passion for volleyball and mental health awareness. After struggling with depression and losing a cousin to death by suicide, Alex decided to speak out in hopes to bring understanding to others battling themselves. Alex is available for speaking engagements.