This is a story of a very special person. If you are on my email list, then you have heard me speak of one of my personal training clients, Linda (not her real name of course).

Linda is a middle aged woman, mother of 2 indignant grown children, and wife to a estranged husband. Her story is heartbreaking and I’ve asked her permission to share it with you all.

I met Linda in February of this year when I started working as her personal trainer. After our initial meeting, I realized that what she needed (and wanted) was much more than a trainer. She needed a life coach.

You see, what I didn’t know was that she was suffering from clinical depression and bipolar disorder and had been struggling with it for more than 20 years. She had gone through multiple psychiatrists and physicians, been on more meds than Michael Jackson, and had endured many tumultuous periods in her life.

I made it clear that I am no physician or in a position to dole out advice regarding her psychological state, but I did feel like I could help her in other ways.

Fortunately for both of us, I have aspirations of becoming a life coach and felt like I could honestly help her find some semblance of happiness, even if just a miniscule amount.  in her bleak.

The Journey Begins With A Single Step (And A Ton Of Pushups)

step one

We began training in her home twice each week and as the weeks progressed, I became familiar with her manic and depressed phases. One day she was flying high and was seemingly on top of the world only to be met the next day with her virtual inability get out of bed.

Now I’m no expert in psychology or these disorders, but I sensed her pain and recognized the incredible toll it was taking on her both mentally and physically.

What she was going through was real and raw. She suffered every single day and it became apparent that it took all of her willpower to just get moving each day. And while I could not fully grasp the concept of “I can’t do it”, I knew she was doing her absolute best.

And as the weeks passed, our sessions became less about exercise (although she did lose 9 pounds and drop 2 sizes) and more like therapy. After a few months, she actually admitted that I was the best “psychiatrist” she ever had.

Why? I listened to her intently and I cared. I also gave her a healthy dose of inspiration and “slap in the face” reality. I saw how special she was and how much she had to offer the world, but she just couldn’t.

So Much Pain…

Sad girl

It pained me to the point of tears on multiple occasions and I’d like to share some of the thoughts she’s shared with me.

I received dozens of emails and texts from her over the past several months and some were very difficult to read. Keep in mind that she is on medication and has wide arcing swings of ups and downs.

  • “Today, is difficult. My life once again is swirling in front of me.”
  • “The should do’s of today: I should go to the gym. I should re-type my resume from the corrections made. I should pay and go to the yoga. I should scream. I should get rid of the dog. I should clean up my email yet again. I should cook. I should look for a job in Florida. I should go back to the meds. Zombie doesn’t feel. I should do laundry. I should have a friend. I should live. Forget it. At the end of today what does it matter any how?”
  • “Steve, bottom line I really, really hate this life. I’m tired of being alone. Everywhere that I go, it’s just me. I hate me. I despise the quiet that surrounds me everyday. I hate waking up. It’s just going to be the same. Quiet. OK. bye. This too shall pass if I stay real still.”
  • “Sensei, thank you. Slowly but surely you’re bringing change to my life. Over all, I think that with your help and support, I was able to turn this day around. And I’m grateful to you.”
  • “I’m fighting the blues today. I am aware of it and I’m working at keeping it from taking over. I will read. This keeps me from thinking about my situation. I hope tomorrow I will be better.”
  • “I’m in bed. I guess all is well. Just the silence. Maybe you could write about silence. Did you know it could be your friend as well as your enemy? Yet it’s just silence. And it’s loud. Just a thought.”
  • “Hi there. I want to thank you for being my strength, my friend, my sensei, and my fitness trainer. Don’t change a thing or I will get you :)”
  • “Are you interested to know what’s boiling inside? When I’m in the car, I just want to run something over full speed. Over and over. Completely destroy whatever. Inside the house I want to take a mallet and smash and scream at the top of my lungs.”
  • “I have a lot to sort out. I want to know the secret to keep moving despite my world. I could be dead on the floor and life goes on. I’m the stupid one.”
  • “You have grown in my heart, soul and mind. I had someone who got me to smile or laugh during the time I didn’t think it possible. Friends don’t tend to stick around me.”
  • “I am afraid to fail you. I have failed so many along my life. And yes I am a chicken too. I have no courage or confidence. And I believe that my happiness is tied to my family’s approval of me which I know I will never get. There will always be a “but.”
  • “Sensei, you have someone who for 28 years has heard the same thing over and over and over. You’re sick. You’re crazy. You can’t do it. You’re chicken. You have no balls. You’re stupid. You’re too sick and you should give thanks that I tolerate and am taking care of you. No one will do this for you as I have. It’s all you’re doing. You don’t know how to have friends. My list is long. I am crippled.”

As you can see, her emotions vary wildly and she is often in a dark place. It’s a very sad thing to think that a good hearted person like this can feel so alone, worthless, and hopeless.

Every time I saw her, I felt like my job was to help her understand how valuable she was to this world. I would spend hour after hour listening to her talk about her family, the days when she was happier, and the possibility for a better future. And I encouraged her to nurture those thoughts and gave her small goals to work towards.

And for certain periods, it worked. Not so much because of the tasks I gave her but because I cared.

Working Together But Apart

When Linda used her final session, it was a emotional moment. I knew she could no longer afford to pay for my services and urged her to find a way to continue. But unfortunately she fell into her black hole of self doubt and self loathing and told me I was wasting my time with her.

I of course disagreed but it was not to be.

Our training ended in April and I’ve continued training my other clients but never has one made such a lasting impact on my life. I have since invited her to dinner (she actually accepted!) and remain in frequent contact with her. She is a dedicated reader of my blog and when she got my email offer last week for a Skype call, her response was:

“I really don’t want to fail you. You are a beautiful person. There are no gimmicks. When a person meets you, they get the authentic you. That’s such a blessing. Sensei, I always fail.

I am interested in your offer. Maybe God sent you to me. Maybe you’re that rock on the head I pray for all the time. By now you should be gone from my life. I am so grateful and thankful that I met you. You’re not afraid of what I am or have.”

I so desperately want to help this woman, and she will be my first official client when I launch my coaching/accountability program in July, yet don’t know if I truly can. She does have an illness that talking will not cure. But I refuse to give up on her. She is a remarkable woman despite what her family tells her and what she has come to believe.

The Grind of Life Is The Hardest


Being in a grind doesn’t need to come in the form of a shitty job or a lousy relationship. Sometimes, it’s your whole fucking life.

I shared this story today because I want everyone reading this to be thankful for what you have and to count your lucky stars that you don’t have a mental illness. I also want every single person to realize the power of caring.

I don’t know if I’ve saved her life, literally or figuratively, but I do know that she deserves it.

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