My name is Drew Kasper and I went to Lexington (Ohio) High School, the same school where Danielle graduated. I now attend Otterbein University.
I was diagnosed with clinical depression and an anxiety disorder at fifteen years old right before my sophomore year of high school. I remember walking into my mom’s bedroom crying and saying something is wrong. I had wrestled since I was small yet every time I walked in the wrestling room that year, I would panic and need to leave. My blood pressure went so high I had to take blood pressure medicine. It is a demon I have fought, with the help of my doctors, my coach and my family, every day since then. During high school, I walked the halls of the school with no one able to guess that I was fighting this personal demon daily. I had teachers call me lazy and say I lacked motivation when inside the depression was saying “Why is this worth it?” “Why bother?” and “It doesn’t matter.”
Despite this illness, I was able to succeed at wrestling. I became a state champion wrestler in high school and, since then, a college All-American. However, through all this success, I still fight this demon of depression and anxiety daily. I fight it before every match. Now, however, I am able to talk about it to my friends, professors and even fellow wrestlers. I have come to realize that all the years of hiding it and trying to pretend I was OK just made me feel worse. I know now that expressing how I’m feeling and not being embarrassed to tell people what I’m going through helps me cope with depression and anxiety. I have depression and anxiety – it is a part of who I am but it won’t define me. I am so thankful for the support I get from family and close friends.
I support what 33 Forever is doing to shed light on, bring awareness to and battle these diseases. It is a daily battle that so many just like me fight in silence – and most people around them have no idea the extent of their inner suffering. It doesn’t matter what people look like on the outside or how “successful” they may appear, these illnesses just don’t care. Other kids, teachers and all people need to be aware of the extent of others’ suffering inside and we, as a society, need to be accepting of and helpful to those who are. No family is exempt from these issues and the way people can cope and succeed despite the issues is to feel free of the judgment, stigma and fear that they will be treated differently if their illness is known.
It’s time to change that. Thank you, 33 Forever, for being part of that change! I am with you and will do anything I can to help you with your mission.