Today’s #SameHere🤙 Hero: Frank Bertola. I was fortunate to hire Frank and have him on our team’s staff at one of the previous sports organizations I worked for. Though it was only for a short period of time before I went to another team, Frank was always a “model citizen” in the office – respectful, hardworking, full of smiles (like the picture you see), and loved by coworkers and the team’s fans he worked with. Though it’s been a good # of years since we’ve worked together, looking back, there’s no way I would have thought – Frank’s a guy who deals with obsessive thoughts and over-analyzation. It’s amazing what goes on beneath the surface that we often can’t physically “see” in people, and I’m so proud of him for opening up and sharing this w the world.
It’s upsetting to hear that a career that he broke into and loved when I first met him, later turned toxic for him as an office culture and expectations changed…but as you’ll see w Frank’s attitude, that hasn’t stopped him. As I think about commonalities in stories shared – healing seems to always come from a practice. In Frank’s case, it has been CrossFit. For others maybe it’s meditation or yoga or even the practicing of religion. But getting out, putting your time and effort towards something that allows you to clear headspace from cluttered and obsessive thinking seems to be the vital ingredient toward self-help. I’m so happy Frank is feeling better, and he’s now going to more formally be a member of our “Crazy” team, details to come. His story:
“Four years ago I moved to New Jersey by myself, and that is the time period when I began to notice a change in how I was feeling. Moving away from ‘home’ and starting a new chapter was needed, but I quickly found myself lonely and unmotivated with many aspects of life.
My days became so routine that being alone at night and then on weekends became the norm. Failed relationships and friendships posed another struggle, shortly after moving. It was during this time that my mental and physical health began to take a turn for the worst. I’ve always struggled with negative thoughts controlling my emotions and it started to overtake me for several months. Waking up and wanting to go back to sleep became a lifestyle and mentality that led to depressive thoughts. Not many people knew what I was going through, including my parents and sister. I became a shadow of the person I was previously because of this.
Work also played a huge role in contributing to negative thoughts, stress, and anxiety. Being in a stressful work environment where you feel no matter what you do, it’s not enough, was fueling high emotions in me. For months I laid awake at night questioning if what I was doing – a career I’d longed to be in – was worth it anymore because of the toll it was taking on me mentally. It eventually led to me leaving and removing myself from a toxic situation. This was both the worst and best decision I could’ve made.
Emotions and feelings never go away because I believe I’m wired differently than most (though after reading these stories, maybe not!). I dwell on things like failed relationships, not feeling a sense of purpose, and witnessing my parents go through an ugly divorce recently. The negative and depressive thoughts continue to affect me to this day. I have a better handle on them but the battle is there every day.
The biggest toll my mental state took on me was how it left me feeling unmotivated and inactive. It made me fearful of opening up and committing because I
felt I was being too emotional and overthinking everything.
Within the last 6 months, I have started to meet with a therapist. I felt there were a lot of unresolved issues I was holding back over the past several years. These sessions are now something I look forward to because I know there’s never any judgment, just solutions and best practices to become a better person.
My saving grace has been joining Crossfit. This gave me a sense of purpose and relief in my day-to-day. I tell anyone who asks that Crossfit saved me and my mental state. Its a platform to focus and channel all of my energy into. When I realized that my success in the gym was based on my effort given towards working out, that changed my outlook. You get what you put in and if you half-ass something you’ll never get better. I didn’t wake up one day and say ‘today’s the day I’m going to squat clean 250lbs.’ There had been a continuous effort and grit of 3 years that has gone into the success I’m having. Being a part of Crossfit and the community that surrounds it makes me a better person every day, and it’s really been my saving grace.
I think people will appreciate this #SameHere🤙 story because it was not fully out there – like it is now. A handful of friends and family members know but this
story is meant to be a resource for many more out there. We all deal with issues but we have the ability to control what we can, along with helping others who might be in similar situations.
To leave off, I wanted to share my favorite quote that has gotten me through everything:
‘Tough times don’t last, tough people do’”