Member Stories – Kristine Kazias
From the depths of despair with PTSD, Kristine’s journey of hiding from people in public, to becoming a mentor to new athletes and participating in the 2016 CrossFitGames Open, will inspire anyone to take charge of their own life and use CrossFit asa lifeline to mental, physical and social change.
I’d like to share with you how FirePower has changed my life…
3 years ago I was in a good place in my life, happily living in Toronto, working at a job I loved, had a great circle of friends, enjoyed my family and had the love ofa really good man. Then, on January 18th 2013 my life changed forever. My partner and best friend died suddenly of a massive heart attack at age 37. There were no warning signs. He was just gone. Life as I knew it, and life as we were planning was over.
I tried desperately to pick myself up but my grief was overwhelming. While I had always struggled with depression, anxiety, and a lifetime of not-so-good baggage, losing my life partner and future husband was the catalyst for what would be a complete mental breakdown.
I couldn’t think, couldn’t sleep, and could no longer work. I was diagnosed with PTSD and had developed a crippling social anxiety. I spent the better part of the next 18 months on the couch with the covers over my head wishing that life would end. My whole life was a trigger point that I couldn’t get out from underneath and I didn’t understand what was happening to me. I wouldn’t leave the house and would only go out to walk my dog, or if absolutely necessary.
I was in a dark, desperately tired place. Everything hurt, physically and mentally. I was growing sick of myself but didn’t know how to help myself. My doctors and my parents told me that I needed to find an activity, something to quiet my brain or something to help with the rage I found myself full of.
And that’s what lead me to FirePower. It took me forever to get up the courage to email, asking about personal training and I secretly hoped no one would write me back. Looking back, I truly think it was my lucky day when I got a response from Coach Annie telling me she could help.
That was the start of my new journey.
The first time I met Annie I had a panic attack while she was showing me around. In her amazing way, she took me to a quiet spot and said “let’s just get moving.” She saw when I was becoming overwhelmed by the noise and took me out of it. During our sessions, she arranged the giant moveable whiteboard walls so that I felt like I had my own safe space and she worked with me through lots of tears and countless “I can’t do this” breakdowns. I was a total pain in the ass and yet she was so patient, so kind and so inspiring.
For a year I met with Annie once a week and during that time a funny thing started to happen, I started to see results. Physically yes, but much more importantly, mentally. I knew if I wanted it to continue I would have to come more often, which meant classes. Which meant being with people. Yikes!
Eventually with a gentle push from Annie, Andrea & Ashliegh, I found myself in CrossFit and boxing classes with coaches I had seen around but never had the courage to talk to other than a passing hello. Slowly I started to talk to people and began to feel less intimated by the space. I saw how encouraging the coaches were, how wonderful the members were and how nice it was to feel like maybe I could belong somewhere. I made new friends and began to come out of my shell. My family noticed, my friends noticed and I noticed the shift in my spirit and confidence.
In the almost 2 years I’ve been coming to FirePower I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’ve learned that my depression, my anxiety and my grief are not something to be ashamed of. They are something I can wear proudly because itdrives me to try harder. To PR in life. In my own time. Without FirePower I would never have found the strength that was hidden in me. I would never have met the people who urge me to keep going. I would never have learned how to climb a rope, the technique of a good squat, the bliss of a great yoga stretch, how totouch my toes to the bar or how empowering it is to throw a solid 1-2 punch. And I certainly would never have become the person the coaches ask to guide a newmember through their first class or give a family a tour of the gym on their first day!
While I still struggle every day, I feel grateful to have found a welcoming, safe place to refocus my energy and clear my head. Now more often I hear myself saying, “just try” instead of “you can’t”. I remind myself that that even the stars can’t shine without the darkness and that it’s perfectly ok to be a little broken because there’s something to be said about the journey of putting yourself back together.
Back in early 2017, a media production company picked up Kristine's story and submitted it to a worldwide CrossFit contest. From all the submissions, her story received Notable Mention.