As soon as I heard about the tornado that decimated my hometown of Joplin Missouri I booked an immediate one-way flight to go and help.  I spent a couple weeks there working long days on recovery efforts, and since I returned to California last week, I’ve been in what I can only describe as a state of depression.

All I can think about is what I saw there, the people my brother and I helped and got to know, how much I miss my family and how I want to help more.  When I was there, I must have been in shock, running on adrenaline, or focused on helping people so much that I never slowed down to analyze how I felt inside.

Well now I’ve been back a week and it has all sunk in.  I’ve never experienced any level of depression.  I’ve been pretty much impervious to anything that could bring me down over the years and I’m constantly motivated to be better, to do more, and to inspire others.  But this event has me feeling smaller than I’ve ever felt.

I know you don’t want to hear about all of this.  In fact I want to warn you that if you’re looking for a business building tip in this post, you should stop reading now.  I know you want fitness marketing strategies from me, and the weekly motivation that I provide, and the guy who always seems to be happy.  I want that guy too! lol

I’ve spent the last week testing different things.  I’ve meditated, but it’s impossible for me not to think about all that I saw.  I’ve gone to the movies twice and I’ve read 2 fiction books…I never read fiction books but I thought that losing myself in the characters of a book and escaping my own reality might help.  It didn’t.  I’m not a religious person, but even if I was, I feel that asking for help for myself seems pretty selfish when so many others are experiencing REAL suffering. I’ve worked out every day, I tried acupuncture for the first time ever, got a massage, and various attempts to adjust the physical side, hoping that it would have a positive effect on the mental side.  Nope.

I’ve even felt that getting back to work and into my normal routine would be best, but then I think about all the people in Joplin who can’t get back into their routine.  Their house is gone, their job is gone, their cars are gone, they’ve lost a child or a parent or a friend.

They will be spending weekends for the next several years rebuilding their lives and their friends and family’s lives.  It will be a long time before they know “normal” again and I almost feel selfish that I HAVE THE OPTION of getting back into my routine.

Talking about my issue with someone is probably not a bad idea, but I’m not really one to talk about my issues with others, and to be honest, I don’t really have anyone in my life that I’m comfortable talking in detail about this stuff.

It’s not that I don’t have people in my life who care and who would listen; it’s because in every relationship I have with friends, family, etc, I am the Rock of the relationship.  I don’t fall, I don’t falter, I’m always positive and I’m always the one THEY come to when they’re having issues.  It’s never the other way around, because I don’t have issues.  (didn’t have issues)

But I know now that when someone is hurting, or going through a rough patch, I’ll NEVER again tell them “don’t worry because it can always be worse”.  What I’ve found through this experience is that you need to dig really deep, identify and embrace the pain of whatever you’re feeling at that moment, and focus on the hurt and where it’s coming from.

That’s what I’ve done these past couple days and that has been the difference maker.  I spent several hours watching videos and looking at pictures of the devastation online (I couldn’t bring myself to take a single picture while I was there), I’ve cried more in the past two weeks than I have in my entire life.  And I’ve found that by NOT ignoring the pain, but rather embracing the pain and letting it burn deep, has helped me feel empowered to start my real life again.

So I decided that my next step this morning would be to just start writing.  Perhaps admitting to the world that I am weak is my way of also convincing myself that I too can feel helpless and that it’s okay.  And to be honest with you, just in the 20 minutes that I’ve been writing this, I can feel my mind clearing, my posture straightening, my spirit improving.

So I guess if there is a lesson in all of my rambling, it’s that you should always remember that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.  (Confucius) … or another quote I’ve always liked by author unknown “Take the first step, no more, no less, and the next will be revealed”.  I can already tell the motivation this is going to bring me is more powerful than anything I’ve ever experienced. (Though I’m not quite there yet…it’s coming)

So I encourage you that when you are hurting, or anxious, or scared, or depressed, don’t ignore it.  Dwell on it and let it burn.  It’s going to take you to depths you didn’t even know existed and feel pain you didn’t know was possible.  To ignore the issue or to busy yourself with other things so you don’t think about it isn’t the answer.  Because I’m certain that hiding the issue is only going to make it come back even worse later.

Be in the moment, feel the extreme emotions, and you’ll learn more about yourself and your resolve than you ever thought possible.  That’s what I’ve found and that’s the lesson I hope you can take from this.

If you are from Joplin, and you are reading this.  I encourage you to feel the hurt, to feel scared, to feel helpless.  Because someday soon, you’re going to know the place where you never want to be again and you will only have one direction to go…Up.

If you’re not in Joplin, but have something else nagging at you or some pain that you’re covering up, or fear of failure or anxiety about your business or money or relationships.  Embrace the feeling.  The more time you waste not doing this is…well…more time wasted!  Turns out we have a limited amount of time on this earth, so the sooner you embrace your issue, overcome it and move on, the more you can enjoy the rest of your life.

I also want you to think about people in your life that you know are hurting.  Don’t tell them it’s going to be okay.  Don’t tell them not to worry about it.  Tell them it might NOT be okay and that they need to worry about it.  They may think you’re crazy, but I firmly believe that the mental health of a person is most optimal when they truly know themselves, good and bad, and can look at themselves, and their issues, and why they feel the way they feel without trying to cover anything up.  It’s the people who deny their issues or ignore their issues who end up with the most emotional problems later in life.  Of course this is just my theory, but I have a feeling you’ve nodded your head more than once while reading this.

My heart goes out to the people of Joplin.  I’m very thankful that my immediate circle of friends and family were for the most part unaffected.  They are all alive…some are without houses and possessions, but who cares.  They’re alive.  So many others are not.

If you have not yet had the opportunity to donate to help Joplin, I have set up a donation form where you can donate $30.  I’m personally matching all donations.  We’re nearing $10,000 total at this point and I encourage you to give.  I don’t know what the money is going to go toward yet, but it will be meaningful and I will make sure it goes to the most powerful cause I can find.  The link to donate is www.tinyurl.com/donatetojoplin .  If you own a fitness business, my team has agreed to give you a month of business coaching if you’ll donate $100 at www.tinyurl.com/helpmyhometown.

If you’ve read this far…Thank you…


 

 

If you have $30 to spare, please make your donation at www.tinyurl.com/donatetojoplin .  If you own a fitness business, please give $100.  As incentive, not only am I matching your donation, but my team has offered to give you a month of business coaching by donating at the fitbiz donation form at www.tinyurl.com/helpmyhometown.

If you want to make a donation smaller or larger than that, please call Whitney at 1-888-475-6061

Thank you so much for your help.

-Curtis


    16 replies to "The Joplin Tornado, Depression, and Moving Forward"

    • Jacksonville Personal Trainer

      Curtis, thank you very much for sharing that. It was very powerful. I will send out my e-mail lust again to try and get more people to donate. If I have learned one thing in my life also is that when u deal with it right away you heal if not it haunts you till you do. Sometimes in life you just have to be!!

    • Alberto

      Hey Curtis,

      I met you in CHicago and talked to you so i feel close to you on this.

      Just want to let you know that its ok for you to be having these types of emotions flooding your body.

      A part of you probably feels guilty for not only surviving it but not being there and experiencing the tornado first hand and being able to to do anything as the exact moment while your fellow Joplinians went through the devastation.

      What you are going through is what the so called experts describe as Post Tramatic Stress.

      I call it being Human.

      After watching the video and seeing the pictures I could not believe that there were people that actually survived that.

      People actually did and I am so glad that they did from seeing the video and pics.

      The best thing I can suggest is to go back if you can and spend more time doing something proactive because that is what will help you cope proactively and continue the healing and moving forward process.

      Be with your family and friends and fellow Joplinians.

      ONly you guys know the experience and feel it better than anyone else and can relate to one another because it is so close to your heart.

      All in all remember and be greatful that you are alive and live your life for those that didn’t.

      After the storm comes the Sun to brighten up your day.

      Keep ya head up and if you want to talk about it to someone you can reach out to me and I will listen.

    • Carol

      My friend noticed that this scripture is a good “911.” It’s Psalm 91:1, Amplified

      “HE who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand].”

      Praying and praying often for you and those in Joplin. God Bless You.

    • Thomas Plummer

      Brilliant writing Curtis and something we all need to hear. Maybe your role in all of this is to be the messenger of hope that we can all learn and grow from the sad misfortune of others. This was a very powerful blog and you have my ultimate respect for giving so much of your time and life to go there and help. Life is nothing more than a constant reality check that time is short and we need to appreciate what we have and to keep moving as best we can.
      Thank you for inspiration
      Thom Plummer

    • Chris you are spot on with this post; the healing in writing, taking time to just be, feel and heal. After my husband died I found myself taking care of my 2 little ones, PT clients and trying to start a bootcamp business. I thought we were dealing w/ the grief & healing just fine. Here I am 5 yrs later to see that I should have slowed down & handled things more as you are. The pics are amazing! I try to put myself in them-I can’t imagine the shock of seeing everything leveled, how 2 begin finding loved ones, what to do next. You said you are not a religious person. Im not either. Im a Christian, which s about a relationship w/ Christ and loving others. You are loving that community in a way that they need. You are also able to leverage your SOI which allows you to be of a greater help. I will be donating again-this time through you. As a native of Joplin you will have a great insight on how to best use the funds for the best leverage. Keeping you & Joplin in my prayers.

    • Jim Labadie

      Curtis,

      Just because you may not be suffering as much as others, you still have every right to feel pain. Personally, I think you should go talk to a professional counselor to help you through this very understandable depression.

      I read the entire post and watched the video and I’m just blown away. Those pictures…I’m at a loss for words.

      Thanks for sharing your story – and part of the story of the people of Joplin – with us.

    • Chett Daniel

      Curtis,

      We’ve known each other about 12 years now. Yes, you are everything you said, always positive, assured, and steadfast. But, you are also human. About six years ago I went through a similar experience. My depression wasn’t brought on by a natural catastrophe, it evolved from rapid life changes and a dissatisfaction about career and life choices I had made.

      Like you I had never encountered anything emotionally that set me on my heals. Before that experience I dealt with the loss of family members, financial struggles, and being recalled into the military with no real knowledge of what the next day, week, month would bring. Through all of those situations I simply evaluated what needed to be done, and did it. For some reason though I couldn’t do the same thing in 2005. And, like you, I didn’t speak of my emotional descent to anyone at the time. I refused to use the word depressed, because being depressed was a sign of weakness and I was a Marine dammit!

      My situation was different because at the time I didn’t really know what had set off the depressive emotions. I was searching and willing to try anything. Like you I began trying different things to overcome my feelings. I began running, a lot. Running helped me exert my frustrations and gave me uninterrupted time to sort out my emotions and root causes of my feelings. Writing also helped tremendously. I began a journal and wrote my most private thoughts. As you know I’ve been married to my h.s. sweetheart going on 16 years now. We talk about everything, but I was not willing to share some of the things I had running through my head with her, so I put it on paper and it helped. A few months later I started a blog and social networking. You helped me tremendously in that process. So let your friends help you. I read and continue to read on the subject of “happiness,” “life’s meaning,” and other related topics. I ran across some hokey and corny books, but I also found some really good ones. What Should I do With my Life, by Po Bronson, Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl, Happier, by Tal Ben Shahar. Each time I began a new book I was looking for *the* answer. Over time I realized the books didn’t have the answers, I did. The books helped me relate and give me suggestions and perspective. In the end though I had to work through what was holding me back.

      Here’s the thing though. I’m on the other side of my depression and have been for sometime now. But, I wouldn’t choose to live my life again without it. For years I pushed away my emotions and feelings of empathy because those were feelings of weak minded people, or so I thought. My experience with depression has given me a new sense of life. Before, it was sitting behind glass windows in the control booth of my life, pulling levers and pushing buttons to make things happen. My sense of sight was the only thing that I used to experience the world around me. After the depression I stepped away from my perched position and began to really interact with those around me. I appreciate life more now and I use all of my senses to experience it.

      There was a line from Po Bronson’s book that I wrote down in my journal and read many times that assured me my bout with depression was, in a way, worth while.

      “But I’d rather help than watch. I’d rather have a heart than a mind. I’d rather expose too much than too little. I’d rather say hello to strangers than be afraid of them. I would rather know all this about myself than have more money than I need. I’d rather have something to love than a way to impress you.”

      I know I too have probably exposed too much as well. But I wanted you to know that you are traveling a road that many of us have been down. You aren’t alone in your journey and, in my experience, you will be a better person on the other side of this.

      Finally, you should know Joplin is already rebuilding. We have been up there several times in the past week. Businesses on Rangeline that were leveled flat have cleared their foundations and have four walls up and will probably be open by early this fall. Debris piles are mounting near the curbs and the help continues to pour in and the people of Joplin are already rebuilding. I don’t see people sitting and waiting for government assistance, they are doing it themselves and letting their fellow man help when help arrives. While the tornado was the most destructive event I’ve laid my eyes on, the spirit of the community will probably be the most inspiring. Be proud of where your from. Joplin is a beacon of hope to everyone from the four-state area.

    • I have never seen the devastation that you recently have. Your post was humbling and pictures frightening.
      Thank you for sharing.
      Alex

    • Hi Curtis,
      You are a HERO! I am sure that you don’t feel like it, but I know there are many folks in Joplin that know it. As do we, your raving fans!
      THANK-YOU…for opening our eyes through yours.
      Take care.
      Elizabeth Benedict-Waltrich

    • Curtis, Thank you for posting this as it has been very humbling to read and it has been hard to try to understand what a tragedy these families are going through. I don’t think you are weak on contrary it shows an extraordinary amount of strength to not only have flown out there and helped but also to share your emotions and feelings with us.

      Best of luck

      Camilo A Ferro

    • Donna Fuller

      I wanted to comment on the article because there is so much no one seems to understand about the aftermath of this deadly tornado.

      I was in the basement of the house my partner and I rented while the tornado was destroying our home/town.

      When I resurfaced afterward I was in shock as what I saw was the end of the world, it felt as though I was in a movie and the last person on earth as there was no sounds, no crying out of others, nothing!

      The most difficult part is what happens now. We had family and friends who came to see what could be salvaged from the home, they started gathering belongings and loading it up to take to a friends garage.

      Now we have this garage that is full of what everyone thought could be salvaged only most everything is either rusted, covered in mold, insulation and the like.

      What I would prefer to do is walk away from it all, just so I can begin a new life. Unfortunately, I must endure the process of going through all of it piece by piece. It brings all the feelings back and then some, it’s as though the tornado had just passed through once again.

      Everyone who lives here must relive this deadly tornado on the daily basis, either by seeing how the town is now, going through their belongings, volunteering, demolishing what was their home or rebuilding.

      The news has done their best to show others what it is like here, however, unless you have seen it first hand you have no idea what it is “really” like.

      All anyone wants is some type of normalcy, but there isn’t any of that. I was told yesterday by a Red Cross volunteer that there will be a different kind of normalcy one day.

      We were fortunate as due to renters insurance we were able to purchase a new home for which we are very grateful for, yet we still must endure the process of going through all of what was put in the above mentioned garage and there isn’t help for the things needed now.

      I am grateful for all the volunteers who came to help in the beginning and those who continue to help, in fact I have written on the windows of my car, “God Bless the volunteers”, on the back windows it says, “We survived, glad you did 2”.

      Now, if only we knew where to begin.

      Sincerely,

      Donna

    • Jay McBee

      I don’t know where to start. My home was destroyed in this tornado. I am living in a rental in another town. My whole world changed in a flash, and I feel so sad and anxious now. It’s been four months since the storm and my despondency is getting worse. Funny, I sell anti-depressants for a living and take them. Still, nothing seems to help. I just want to crawl into the middle of a big stack of hay bales and stay there. Good luck to you. I don’t know what will become of me.

    • Collin Graham

      I live at 1202 Murphy. I was renting on 23rd and joplin before the tornado. I want to know who u are and why ur mail is here and why im getting the chills just reading what ur talking about. Donna Fuller who are u:)

    • Jon

      Damn.

    • Jessica L

      Beautiful post. So sorry about your home town.

    • Demetria Wallace

      Thinking of you Curtis Mock. I don’t know you personally but I’ve followed you for years. I’ve never felt closer to you than after reading this post. I’d love to give you a hug right now.

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