I’ve touched on this subject before, but on the occasion of me being in Texas for WWE’s “stupendous” WrestleMania 38 weekend, as I write this in the hotel room, I wanted to elaborate more.
Here is something I haven’t been able to say in more than a decade: I haven’t thought about, or even conceived of a plan, for killing myself after returning home from Texas.
You see, this is the seventh WrestleMania event I’ve attended. Aside from the first one I attended, I’ve always had it in the back of my mind, “Okay, I just need to get to this event, and then I am free to kill myself.”
It’s funny to look back on that first one in 2007, WrestleMania 23 at Ford Field in Detroit (which also happens to be the closest available WrestleMania event I’ve ever gone to — come on WWE, go there again, or St. Louis, or Chicago!), because I thought it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. This was WrestleMania! The biggest professional wrestling event of the year, and it was less than four hours from hour home, and my parents were paying for it (I was 17 at the time). For all I knew, the tickets cost five thousand dollars. Who knew when I’d get to go to it again? But of course, I would end up going six more times.
That first one, I don’t remember being how I would become: depressed, dealing with anxiety, and filled with constant suicidal ideation. (Although, looking back, I do think depression/anxiety were there, just not as potent, or you could say those afflictions were latent.) So, there was none of that before, during or after the event.
However, once depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation manifest, I used to “trick” my brain to stay alive. WrestleMania tickets tend to go on sale late in the fall, so theoretically, you have to buy tickets months in advance of a show that typically takes place at the end of March or the beginning of April. That’s how I would trick my brain by buying tickets in advance, and being like, “Welp, I gotta stay alive for another six months now, at least.”
And it worked, obviously, because I’m here. From WrestleMania 29 in New York City; to WrestleMania 32 in Dallas, Texas; to WrestleMania 33 in Orlando, Florida; to WrestleMania 34 in New Orleans, Louisiana; and back to New York City for WrestleMania 35, I’ve always used those as a sort of marker in the sand with my brain: Let me make it to this marker at least.
WrestleMania 38 back in Dallas, Texas, and back at AT&T Stadium, is the first time I can say there is no line in the sand. There is no marker. This is no brain bargaining. There is no trickery. No tomfoolery here!
Even almost a year ago, when WWE was running its WrestleMania equivalent for the summer, appropriately named, SummerSlam, in Las Vegas, I was doing the same thing again: Bargaining, pleading, putting down markers. And then a marvelous thing happened: I started therapy. I ended up selling the tickets because I didn’t need that crutch anymore. That way of prolonging my life. (And also, it was way too expensive at the time for me to go to Vegas.)
So, I’m happy in that regard. It’s a big step. To go to a wrestling event, and WrestleMania at that, without the stereotypical, cliché dark cloud looming over the event and my experience. But that’s also why I’m glad wrestling has been, and continues to be, in my life. Because while that wasn’t a healthy way of dealing with my issues, it was a form of coping, and again, a form of prolonging my life. Thanks to professional wrestling.
This year, this time, it is just WrestleMania. No strings attached.