Carman Dalla-Vicenza experienced his first alcoholic blackout at 9. At 12, he was bussing to skid row to buy drugs during school. A few years later he was shooting up behind dumpsters using dirty puddle water. He’s OD’d more times than he can remember. Until a chance encounter with the gym turned him to an addict of a different kind.
RYU: Why do you support One More Rep?
Carman: The idea of bringing awareness to our societies least talked about pandemic through health and fitness. Our bodies respond to physical activity with dopamine and serotonin, which cause feelings of euphoria and happiness. This is the body’s natural “anti-depressant”. Our society as whole is becoming more and more active through fitness and the result can only be positive. Not only for mental well being, but physically as well.
What was the silent battle you were fighting that no one knew about?
I suffer from clinical depression. So severe so that I at times go through extreme boughts of depression which brings me at times to become suicidal. I was first diagnosed with this illness when I was 21 and was prescribed medication. I found the medication to make me become numb in a sense. I felt almost no emotions whatsoever. I become kind of “zombie like”. Not pleasant to say the least.
Choosing to risk incredible periods of depression over medicating myself wasn’t easy until my sister passed away from an Ativan overdose, a popular anti-anxiety medication. This made my choice to no longer take prescription drugs an easy one.
I sadly self-medicated through alcohol and drugs filling my sisters passing which took me on a rapid downward spiral. Clinical Depression followed by alcohol and drug abuse that proved to be a deadly combination. I had overdosed multiple times in a 3 year period. I was pronounced dead twice and thankfully brought back to life through medical intervention.
That being said I cleaned myself up but still battled with clinical depression episodes that make life very lonely and isolating. How was I too ever lead a productive life with this illness? I found fitness. Well bodybuilding to be exact. I have become someone I never imagined I could be through pushing myself to achieve physical goals.
Talk about it. To anyone who’ll listen. Don’t be afraid to say you feel crazy. That you feel like harming yourself. That you feel like you have no worth.
This has given me self worth, self esteem, self confidence, as well as empathy for others struggling with mental illness. It’s made me a better father, a better friend, a better employee… The list goes on. Training has saved my life. It’s also how I became part of the RYU family. Everything I have today I owe to fitness, my friends and family, and RYU.
Where are you right now on your personal journey to health?
I am currently training to compete in a bodybuilding competition in June and I am also personal training friends and clients.
What would you say with someone who is struggling?
Talk about it. To anyone who’ll listen. Don’t be afraid to say you feel crazy. That you feel like harming yourself. That you feel like you have no worth. People will listen and want to help. Don’t hide it. It’s in hiding that causes the most harm. You are loved.
What do you hope will happen as a result of this campaign?
Well…. All I can hope for is people ask questions and get curious about what mental health really is. People simply don’t understand what those struggling are really going through daily. With education, people can learn to see “signs” of mental illness in friends, family or even themselves. Awareness saves lives.
About Carman Dalla-Vicenza
Carman is the Retail Manager at RYU’s Thurlow Street in downtown Vancouver.