I Can Feel Again

Arron Barringer

Written by: Arron Barringer

There’s a funny thing about depression; you might not even know it’s there. It started slowly enough. My energy just sagged away. I couldn’t maintain a decent sleep schedule. Everything become more difficult. Sometimes opening your eyes in the morning… or afternoon… is about all you can muster. My depression was a side effect of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or rather, PTSD. It is essentially the mind’s way of coping with the experiences of having to take lives… and having people try to end yours. Everyone handles it differently, but anyone who has seen the elephant is forever altered. The depression is what people SEE, if they see anything. The hardest part, for me, was the numbness. The inability to feel emotions like love, happiness… even fear. It’s like walking through the world while covered by an enormous blanket that no one can see. It’s frustrating, too. Some people would tell me to “snap out of it” and “stay focused” yet every time I failed, well, I felt like a failure. It’s times like those that a man can get swallowed up by his addictions. The bottle, broads, drugs… you name it and I’ve seen someone eaten alive by it. Probably before I was ten. I’m lucky. I only have two addictions: Music and MMA. Ok… I have three addictions. And the third one is puuurrrrrrty.

My Wolfpack over at Hoger saw me through some of the worst of it, and my new family at Gracie Barra opened the door to getting myself squared away. It’s been a rough couple of years. I started out on an upswing. My fourth professional fight was a mark in the “W” box. From there on out it all started to come unraveled. I stopped focusing on school. I just couldn’t seem to make it on time. Stupid, I know. I can’t explain it. My mood swings began to get more and more extreme. Nightmares kept me up most nights and I HATED the weeks leading up to New Years and the Fourth of July. (Random fireworks still give me fits) Relationships became impossible. How can you empathize with someone when you don’t even have emotions of your own? I did get one light of relief; Dexter. Great show about a sociopathic serial killer who can not feel normal emotions, but successfully mimics them in order to function in society. Awesome show to be, like; “Yea, man… this guy gets it.”

I stumbled through jobs, medications, relationships, apartments, financial crises and fights. On the outside I seemed like a regular person. Inside, I just couldn’t wrap my head around what was wrong with me. By the time I realized that I was self-destructing it was almost too late! It’s like sitting in a restaurant and they lower the lights so slowly that you don’t realize how dark it’s gotten until you stand up.

I stayed in the gym, pushing through everything. Trying to focus. MAKING myself focus. The times  leading up to the fights were the clearest of times. You can’t run that hot forever, though, and a cycle was born. I lost my next fight. I took a fight on short notice and forced a split decision… but a loss nonetheless. Rather than go back to the drawing board, I took a harder fight against a tougher opponent. I banged my way to a unanimous decision loss on that one. I really wanted to fight at 145. In my mind, that was the problem. I was just training and fighting outside my natural weight. I asked around for a fight, pestering for an opponent. I signed up to fight Pineda in a non-title bout. A week later my coach pulled me. I hated backing out of that fight, but honestly; I had no business fighting the belt holder after three straight losses anyway. I took the fight against Snyder and forced myself into camp. After each loss, I would fight someone better than myself. So I end up across the cage from a very focused Snyder… who happened to hold the #3 spot in his weight class at the time. (I was ranked #8 at 155) Look. I’m a warrior. I know how to Ranger Up.

Three minutes into the first round I caught a left hook that would have impressed Mickey Ward, and down I went. There’s a great picture out there where I’m falling backward with my arms outstretched like I was at Schlitterbahn. Well… I’d rather get knocked out than boo’d.

The end of the year was a cathartic one. The VA has me on some good meds. I can feel again, which is (as I would say when I was ten) radical. I’m enrolled in school and finally filed my taxes for the last three years. My Harley is like therapy on two wheels, and an amazing girl to ride with tops off the cake. I drug my fat ass into the gym this afternoon and got manhandled. I’m going to take some time off from MMA and focus on my Jits. I’ve been a Blue Belt since 2003. There are a few thank you’s I need to throw out there before I go into the world of Pajama Warfare:

Emmanuel Salon, in Sugarland: Brian Benoit runs a first rate place. Mallory is so good at cutting hair that no one ever realized I was depressed!

Justin Trapp at Fighter Portraits for always wearing my shirt, even if it is super comfy.

Ragan from B3 Sport Management, Rich Burrmaster and Barry Laminack for always believing in me.

Rich, thanks for hooking me up with so many amazing sponsors!

Forty Thieves clothing for taking a chance on me, win or lose, and sending me BOXES of awesome clothing! (Their shorts are the BEST out there)

Ranger Up for ALWAYS supporting the vets. Period. They are an amazing outfit. Which almost makes up for them being Army… but we all make mistakes.

Manumission, you guys sent me a bag of soap once and it was amazing! Thank you!

Klench Kustom Mouthguards: They made a custom mouthpiece for me that surpassed any other mouthpiece I had before in quality and craftsmanship. The colors were bold, the lettering clear and the fit was impeccable. After Snyder knocked me out, sometimes I would sleep with my mouthpiece in to help my jaw stay aligned. Great product. Use them.

I still plan on writing for The Cage Door as I make my way into the Jits world. I’ve got an absolutely KILLER rock band put together, so I’ll be out and about. Before I go: If you, or anyone you know, is a Combat Vet- Do yourself, and them, a favor. Read “On Combat” by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman. That is all.

Catch ya later.

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Manumission –www.fightceuticals.com

Ranger Up – www.rangerup.com

Forty Thieves – www.fortythievesclothing.com