Editor’s note: In light of the recent suicides by students at Butte High School, ButteSports.com reached out to Kevin Petritz to elaborate on his long-time struggles to deal with depression. Petriz, a Butte High graduate and the Bulldogs’ girls’ soccer coach, recently detailed his fight with depression in a letter to the editor in The Montana Standard.
By Kevin Petritz
When I was asked by Bill Foley to write an article for ButteSports.com I sit here humbled to have such great support from a community such as Butte.
Mental illness is something I have lived with my whole life. Talking about it took years, but making my decision to write what I wrote to The Montana Standard only took a matter of minutes. I felt that it was my responsibility as not only a coach, but as an uncle, cousin, brother and son to help make my community better.
I first started showing signs of this illness back in junior high. I had problems controlling my emotions. I had days of extreme highs and extreme lows. I really thought that I was a weak individual and needed to get tougher and learn to control this. I was extremely good at hiding this from people, ashamed that I couldn’t control this, and I didn’t want to burden people with what I thought my just my problems.
By the time I got to college I had built up such a giant wall that it was impossible for people to get close to me. I lost close relationships because I was too afraid to let people know that I was suffering. Like I said before, I did not want to burden them with MY problems. I quit, which was at the time, the greatest job I have ever had. I was an assistant coach for a great soccer program at MSU-Billings.
I tried to seek help, but after talking to doctors and talking some medication I thought I could finally beat this. I stopped taking medication and stopped talking, and I ended up deeper than I was before. I later was hospitalized twice and finally enough was enough. I knew I had to get better. I knew I needed to be proactive. I knew I needed to change.
After many years of managing this illness I have been able to cope. Some days are good, some days are bad. But I know how to recognize these signs and now, because I was able to seek help, have the tools to get through these times of darkness.
As a leader of a small portion of athletes in this community, I feel that it’s time to take my experiences and share them.
I can’t imagine what the families in Butte are going through. I am saddened that so many good people aren’t able to find the help they need. I thank God everyday for my girls (Butte High girls soccer and my nieces). I can’t imagine not being able to watch these girls grow up and accomplish their life-long goals. I want to make sure I do everything I can to ensure they do.
I did not know how much my words would touch a large part of the community. The overwhelming show of support is truly amazing. I have been privileged to be able to read the emails, texts and Facebook messages from people who have gone through this. Even from people I have been close to my whole life. This community has amazing and strong people. Thank you to everyone who has shared a story or a kind word with me.
Lastly, I want to make sure that everyone who is suffering silently with any kind of depression to know that you are not alone. Many of us in some form or another have similar experiences.
There is not one way to feel better. There are many different ways to help cope. The only way you will begin to feel better is to act and to seek help. To do nothing is not going to make these feelings go away. I am always willing to help any way I can.
Butte’s most precious resource is and has always been its people. We can’t afford to lose any more of our youth to this.
I am so proud of my community but this is an area we can do better in, and knowing Butte, we will. Don’t give up the fight, I know I won’t.
— Butte High girls’ soccer coach Kevin Petritz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. 20 comments