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Marathon man tackles mental illness

Parksville Qualicum Beach News - 3/24/2017

After living with depression and mental health challenges for more than two years, Anthony Trozzo has had enough. And now he wants to prevent others from suffering the same struggles.

Trozzo, a 2016 graduate of Kwalikum Secondary School and currently a student at Vancouver Island University, will run the Seattle half-marathon in November in a bid to raise awareness of and money for treatment of mental illness.

“I want people to know that it gets better if you start talking to people and get help,” said Trozzo, a two-time provincial champion with the KSS golf team and a former player and assistant coach with its soccer program. “I let it take over my life for a year and a half, and I really regret that. You lose motivation and you lose friends.”

Trozzo believes his depression began after he suffered a concussion while playing soccer in the fall of 2014. Two more concussions followed, and for a year and a half he kept the issue to himself while spiraling to “a low point,” believing it would pass on its own.

Finally, about a year ago, he shared his struggles with his girlfriend and parents, which led to Trozzo beginning clinical treatment. He has since been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and continues to undergo treatment.

“The biggest problem with mental health is, it’s not fun to talk about with anyone,” he said. “But that’s the first step to getting better. My girlfriend, Faith, and her parents and my parents are the core group I can talk to about this stuff; without them, I’m not sure how much more I could have gone through.”

Even realizing a longtime dream of playing collegiate golf wasn’t enough to lift Trozzo from his depression. Planning to take a “gap year” following graduation last spring, Trozzo had a conflicted response when he received a call from the VIU golf program when it found itself short of players at the start of last fall’s season.

He hastily enrolled in classes and hit the links, eventually playing in the Pac West Conference championship tournament at Parksville’s Morningstar Golf Course, but it wasn’t the dream season he had hoped for.

“It had been a dream of mine my whole life to play university golf,” Trozzo said. “But the whole reason I’d taken a year off after high school was to work and get my mental aspect back where it should be and to get my focus back.

“When you’re going through what I’m going through you can’t focus on things and strive toward your goals in a normal way. Fortunately, that call really helped me out.”

Though always fit as a soccer and golf player, Trozzo has never been a competitive runner — and certainly never ran a half-marathon. But during solitary runs for fitness in the off-season, he discovered the activity had a therapeutic effect, which led to his idea for a fundraising run.

“Running was always something I could do to get me through mood swings and depression,” he said. “Now, I’m taking a running class through VIU.”

Trozzo has set up a Go Fund Me account online with the hope of raising $1,000 for mental health and the Family Start Program. Through its first 10 days the account has raised $600. Just as important as the funding to Trozzo, though, is sharing awareness that will help others avoid the pit he said he fell into.

“It’s not the end of the world,” he said. “It gets better.”

To contribute or learn more, visit www.gofundme.com/tonyattheseattlemarathon .

 
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