(TFL) Welcome to the fighter’s life. Everyone interviews the victors, but we always fail to highlight the personal victories that many fighters have. Not everyone starts at the same starting line, but it’s the personal victories that count the most. Today, we’re going to talk about something that hits home for me personally. Our guest today is amateur fighter and my wife Roni “Rage” Mongonia, who battles with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Anxiety Disorder. For those who may not have heard of you, would you introduce yourself?
(RM) Hello! My name is Roni. I am 24 and I compete in the 145 weight division (currently working my way down to 125). I started doing Muay Thai for fitness about 3 years ago but I didn’t start taking it seriously and fight training until January 2013.
(TFL) Who did you train under and for how long?
(RM) I train under the Mongonia Bros. and Uriel Figuroa at Revolution Dojo in Downtown. I have been here since September 2012. Prior to the move to Revolution I trained under Kru Pong.
(TFL) Let’s just right into the subject, care to talk about your past and provided your ok with it, talk about the source of your PTSD?
(RM) As a child, I endured a lot of emotional and psychological stress from a much loved parent. All I knew of love and affection was surrounded by hurtful words and angry outbursts. As I got older, things got worse. This person use to lock me in the car and scream at the top of their lungs the most hurtful and threatening things. There were a few times when I felt my life was in serious danger. This was what I thought love was so in my teens I subconsciously looked for guys who treated me the exact same way. When I was 17, I found myself in an even more abusive relationship. I was sexually and physically assaulted multiple times. I thought this was normal until I started having nightmares and vivid flashbacks that started affecting my everyday life.
(TFL) How long of you been fighting PTSD?
(RM) I started showing signs of PTSD and Depression when I was about 10 years old. I would have panic attacks at school and vivid nightmares. It wasn’t until I was 19 when I couldn’t walk outside my front door without breaking down before I was diagnosed.
(TFL) Getting in the ring can be nerve wrecking, even for someone who’s not dealing with PTSD and anxiety. How do you do it? (RM) It has taken me a few years of therapy to get to the point where I have SOME control of my thoughts and anxiety. On the day of the fight I focus on my breathing and slowing my thoughts. I imagine how I will feel after the fight. After overcoming my fears and getting in that ring, win or lose. I focus on one thing at a time. And when I start to doubt myself I scream in my head “I CAN DO IT! I CAN GET IN THAT RING AND HAVE FUN!”
(TFL) What is your fight camp like? Do you struggle with anxiety when you are at the gym?
(RM) When I was training for my last two fights, I would actually have panic attacks while I was hitting pads or sparring. I have learned how to use my anxiety to push me through my training. Nethaneel actually gave me the name “Rage” because when I have a panic attacks in the middle of training, I get a mean look on my face and I take it out on the pads, haha!
(TFL) Now, in your last showing, you had a fever all day and still got in the ring. I know of macho fighters that back out because of a small booboo. In my book, that makes you a warrior. Tell us about your experience at the TBA?
(RM) Yes, unfortunately I got sick the day of the first elimination bouts. I remember just wanting to cry. The thought of having to back out after all of that training and cutting weight was heartbreaking! So I decided to say “Screw it, let’s do this!” I was in bed all the way up until it was time to warm up in the evening for my fight. But, if I didn’t at least try I would be kicking myself for it today! The TBA was a great experience. I met a lot of awesome people and it gave me another chance to overcome personal obstacles and punch PTSD in the face again!
(TFL) What are your plans and goals in the future?
(RM) My current goal is to drop weight so I can compete in the 125 weight class. I plan to keep on fighting! I love the rush I get after facing my fears!
(TFL) Thanks you very much for your time. I think your story is an inspiration for people battling and overcoming PTSD and Anxiety Disorders. Any words of wisdom for someone out there, that might be battling with the same thing?
(RM) Be strong and remember that you are not alone. PSTD and Anxiety Disorders are very hard to overcome but you can do it! Surround yourself with positive and supportive people and talk about your feelings. Also, find an activity that you enjoy that helps relief your anxiety (for me it’s Muay Thai and playing with my cats). I have been working on managing my anxiety for five years now. It’s still a struggle, but if I can do it, anyone can! Thank you for having me!