STANZ: The day I took back the controls

I will never forget February 19, 2017.

I was not working at Cyclone Fanatic at the time for reasons I am not really going to get into here. Simply, I had to get better.

I had to find out what was wrong with me.

That is why I will never forget February 19, 2017, the day I was diagnosed with ADHD and a generalized anxiety disorder.

I had trouble focusing for as long as I could remember. I could not sit in classrooms for more than a few minutes before my mind wandered to something else. I would start a task then a few minutes later would be deep within a task completely different than the one I had started on.

Studying for a test or doing homework that required a lot of concentration was something my brain could not grasp. My legs bounced when I sat and even now I have trouble sitting without wiggling my toes restlessly inside my shoes. I could not sit in one spot for that long and think about one thing. My mind raced at 10 million miles an hour.

So I just did not do it.

Growing up, I was smart enough to get by with good enough grades to where it never was a topic of concern. I believe that is a large portion of why it took me nearly 23 years before I was officially diagnosed with the causes of the issues I had battled my entire life.

I have always been a kid who worried. Things the normal person would view as irrelevant would bother me to the point of mental breakdowns. My emotions could swing in an instant, especially in a negative way.

I could be having the best day ever, but the second one bad thing would happen my mood for the remainder of the day was crashed. I was prone to letting my emotions be the thing that dictated my actions. The biggest problem with that was I had no way of controlling my emotions.

Someone I have never met, and probably never will meet, could say something negative to me on Twitter and it would crush me to the point of tears. My friends would ask me why I let things people who do not know me said bother me. So then I would worry about being worried.

I could not help it. I was scared to talk to anyone. I did everything I could to keep my internal emotions from coming through the exterior. I did not tell anyone about my problems because I felt it would only lead me to worry further about the problems I had just verbalized.

I feel that is one of the biggest reasons I have always been most comfortable on a basketball court. It was the only place I could let my emotions loose. I could yell. I could celebrate. I could let all the worries off the court in the back of my mind during those moments when I was between the lines.

That was until the first game I played in as a freshman at Simpson College. Our team made a run. I celebrated in the same way I always had. The other team called a timeout and as I walked to the bench I was made fun of by a group of teammates sitting behind it. From then on, I felt I could not show emotion on the court in the same way.

Basketball stopped being fun. It stopped being my outlet. To this day, it is the first story I tell when someone asks why I decided to leave. It had stopped being the safe spot that had led me to fall in love with the game in the first place.

That story is a big piece of what led me here. I probably would have never worked for Cyclone Fanatic without that moment in my life. I probably would have never developed a bond with Chris Williams, which is how this story comes full circle.

He was the first person who ever talked to me about my mental health. He was the first person who ever told me he thought there were underlying issues to things I thought were just part of my nature and always would be.

That is why I was inspired to write this when I heard Chris tell Royce White he was the one who inspired him to look deeper into his mental health on the podcast they recorded this week. It was the chain set in motion by Royce that allowed me to pinpoint my disorders close to five years later.

It is a big part of the reason I think I have had such a soft spot for Royce in my heart since the first time I heard his story. I do not know how much Royce and I truly have in common, but I know there are two things for sure.

We both battle with mental health problems and we both love the game of basketball. I do not know that anyone has ever asked him this before, but I am sure he would tell you a story similar to mine about why a basketball court is such a special place for him.

I am not writing any of this for sympathy or because I want attention. Believe me, I want neither one of those things.

I am writing this because I want people out there who deal with these sort of things on a daily basis and are scared to talk about them to know there is help to be found. You do not have to let them control you, because there is a way to take the control back. I know it is an incredibly scary concept, but there will always be people who care and who want to help.

I grew into adulthood before I had someone tell me that. I will forever be fiercely loyal to Chris for being the person who did.

I will not pretend there are not still bad days, because that would not be truthful. But they are less frequent than they used to be. The good days certainly outweigh the bad ones a lot more than they did before.

I will never forget February 19, 2017, the day I took back the controls.

Jared Stansbury


Jared a native of Clarinda, Iowa, started as the Cyclone Fanatic intern in August 2013, primarily working as a videographer until starting on the women’s basketball beat prior to the 2014-15 season. Upon earning his Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Iowa State in May 2016, Jared was hired as the site’s full-time staff writer, taking over as the primary day-to-day reporter on football and men’s basketball. He was elevated to the position of managing editor in January 2020. He is a regular contributor on 1460 KXNO in Des Moines and makes regular guest appearances on radio stations across the Midwest. Jared resides in Ankeny with his four-year-old puggle, Lolo.

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