By Rich Palzewic
GREEN BAY – More than five years ago, Carson Molle said he immediately regretted a decision he made.
Molle, a 2021 Seymour High School graduate and now a University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh student, tried to take his own life – a choice he said he’s still dealing with today.
“Half of a second after I pulled the trigger, I regretted it,” he said. “I was dealing with mental illness at the time, and I didn’t know it. I think a lot of young teens don’t know what mental illness is – that was me. It wasn’t so much depression but anxiety and pressure I put on myself. Not being able to live up to those expectations I put on myself was hard.”
Molle said it led him to the point where he thought he should end his life.
“Once I pulled the trigger, my chances of survival were low,” he said. “When the ambulance came to get me, I was airlifted. They called ahead to the hospital and said, ‘He’s not going to be alive when we get there.’ I wasn’t too conscious at the time, but I had this innate instinct in me that said, ‘Now that I survived, I need to fight for my life.’”
Molle played football as a running back/safety and participated in track and field as a sprinter at Seymour.
His father, Matt, was the long-time football coach at the school but recently retired.
“We moved to Seymour from Appleton when I was 3 years old,” Molle said. “My dad took the head football job. Sports was pretty much all I knew growing up, and it’s still a big part of my life.”
Molle said he didn’t expect to ever play football again, but in the summer of 2019, going into his junior year, his doctors gave him some good news.
“I was told I could play football,” he said. “I was so happy to hear that news. I ended up playing my junior and senior years. In track, I did the 100-meter dash and was on the 4×400 and 4×100 relay teams.”
As a freshman at Oshkosh, Molle, who has three siblings, is studying radio/TV/film.
He said his ultimate goal is to be a film director.
“I was recruited to play football at Oshkosh, but a month into practice, as a family, we decided it would be too much for me with the surgeries I’ve had, plus being a full-time student, work and playing football.”
In a little more than five years since the accident, Molle has had 16 reconstructive surgeries on his face.
“They’ve been for rebuilding stuff on my face that was lost in the accident,” he said.
A new lease on life
Molle said he can’t take back what happened, but he’s learned to deal with it and use it to his advantage the best he can.
First lifting weights in high school to improve for football, he’s recently upped his game.
Molle, along with others from the area and around the country, will be participating in the Second Annual National Gym Association (NGA) Green Bay Hardbodies Natural Show at the Meyer Theatre Saturday, May 7.
“The main reason I started lifting more is that it’s an outlet,” Molle said. “It helps with my mental health. I’ve used my past to propel myself into the future. Weightlifting is so much fun to me.”
At 5-foot-7 and currently weighing 155 pounds, this will be Molle’s first competition.
“I’m excited about it and not nervous,” he said. “I’ve cut down about 20 pounds in the last few weeks to get ready for the competition.”
Molle said it takes a lot of preparation to train – something he said he enjoys.
“I lift five or six days a week, depending on the time of the year,” he said. “One or two days off a week is needed.”
Being the competitive person he is, Molle said he’s going to the Meyer with high hopes.
“In my division, I might be the youngest person there,” he said. “But, because of my work and the self-confidence I have as a bodybuilder, I’d like to say I’m expected to win. We’ll see how that goes. I feel confident about what I’ll bring to the stage.”
Advice to teens
Molle said he’s learned a lot in the past five-plus years.
“The first thing I would tell teens who are dealing with what I was dealing with is, ‘I understand, and you’re not alone.’ I feel like a lot of times when you get into a dark place where you’re thinking about taking your own life, you feel like you’re the only one on the planet feeling this way. Not only do I understand, but anyone you’d talk to is going to be empathetic. Like I say all the time, if I had talked to my parents, my siblings or my best friend before I did it, I wouldn’t have ended up doing it.”
Like any mental illness, Molle said it’s still a daily struggle, even years later.
“Ironically, I like to joke about it a little,” he said. “A traumatic incident like that causes your mental illness to become worse. My mental health wasn’t good for a long time, and now I’m diagnosed with depression, anxiety and PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder) from the incident.”
Molle said he has no plans to stop lifting or doing shows.
“Eat right, get some exercise, lift weights, stay active and do what you love to do,” he said. “Learn from my mistakes and use them to get your life back together.”
Sports editor’s note: To read about the Second Annual National Gym Association (NGA) Green Bay Hardbodies Natural Show at the Meyer Theatre Saturday, May 7, check out the April 28 edition of City Pages, inserted into last week’s edition of The Press Times.