The Wolverine

November 2016

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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NOVEMBER 2016 THE WOLVERINE 79   WHERE ARE THEY NOW? was in Coach Carr's car. It was a sur- real moment. "He's got 110 kids on his team, and he's treating me like I'm his own son. He drives me down to see a counselor, and I get diagnosed with depression. I was probably in there for an hour or so, and when I came out, Coach Carr was still there, waiting for me. "He said, 'John, we're going to nail this. We're going to kick this in the butt. We're going to get through this together. "Why don't you meet me down at the stadium, every day at 6 a.m.? I walk the sta- dium every day. Meet me there, and we'll talk about things.'" Anes followed through, most days. To this day, he deeply appreciates Carr 's effort to help him through a battle bigger than football. "It was one of those things I'll never forget," Anes said. "For him to take the time for me really did mean a lot. Unfortunately, I progressed with my depression." A professional counselor did not help. Anes' self-medicating solution — alcohol — made matters worse. When the time came for fall camp, 1997, he simply froze up. "I got all my stuff in my car, and I got in to go, and I just sat there," he said. "Something held me back. I can't explain it to this day. Something inside of me said, 'You can't do this. You can't go.'" He'd spent a summer convinc- ing himself he wasn't any good at football in the first place, demand- ing of himself why he should even try. "I don't think I even let on to Coach Carr how severe this was, how down and out I was about myself and life," Anes noted. Anes called home, announcing he wasn't reporting to fall camp. Over the summer, his parents, uncles, even his high school coach, urged him to stick with it, push through, not throw away a prime opportunity at Michigan. He didn't leave then, Carr encouraging him to still show up at Schembechler Hall every day, which he did — helping send out recruiting letters, etc. Inside, Anes knew it was over. "I knew in my heart, at that point, it was too late," Anes said. "I wasn't going to make it." He hung on for another month, doing what he could but also sleeping 15-18 hours a day. "I was just in a different state of mind that really did not make a whole lot of sense," he said. "It didn't even make sense to me. I had a chemical imbalance in my brain, from what I was told. It was just a really strange point in my life." While Michigan fans celebrated the greatest football season of their lives, Anes agonized through the worst year of his life. He went home, not watch- ing a single game until the Rose Bowl rolled around. After that, he didn't watch a football game of any sort for two years. "When you're going through de- pression, you blame it on things that are not real," he said. "Football wasn't my problem, but I associated it as my problem." Anes began working as a furniture delivery man, getting more counsel- ing and different medications. When he turned 20, he took a job with Iron Mountain, a global company special- izing in confidential document de- struction and storage. He went from driver to warehouse coordinator in six months. After a couple of years, he became a supervisor, overseeing a half-dozen facilities in west Michigan. "I worked my way up pretty quickly there, and my career took off after that," he said. On the weekends, he still hit the bars hard. "Over the course of many, many years, I still self-medicated with alcohol," he said. "It's been a lifelong battle. Over time, my battle has not been depression, but alco- holism. That's where I've struggled for most of my life." He recalled that first sip, and college friends thinking it so impressive that he could handle more alcohol than they. Anes wore it as a badge of honor himself. "It's something I ended up hiding from the coaches and everybody else while I was there," he said. "That's the one thing I never talked about at all. That was the big lie I was living. Every chance I got, I was going to drink as much alcohol as I could. "At the time, I thought it opened up a whole new world. But it was de- stroying my life, and I didn't know it." His second DUI occurred in early October 2014. His what-am-I-doing reaction preceded an 18-month sojourn through Sobriety Court, involving Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, alcohol evaluation, re- porting to a probation officer, go- ing back to court once a month, etc. He's almost at the finish line with all of that. His faith has sus- tained him, and he has a message for Michigan fans. "Just let everybody know I'm still a diehard Michigan fan," Anes said. "I always have been, always will be. And if anyone wants to reach out to me, I'm on Facebook. "If anybody wants to talk, I'm available. If they have a family member or friend that is going through something — they don't know how to deal with it, and they're kind of scared — I've been through it. I know what it's all about. I wouldn't hesitate to help anybody. "If I can help one person, all this stuff I'm doing right now is well worth it." ❏ Anes "It's almost been therapy for me to be able to speak about this publicly. It's not easy to do." Anes — pictured with his daughters Madelin and MacKenzi — has expressed a desire to help others with similar problems. PHOTO COURTESY JOHN ANES

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