For as long as I can remember, softball has been my answer to everything.
Having a difficult day? Go hit a bucket of balls.
Stressing over a test? Go out and pitch a bullpen.
This constant cycle of treating softball as my “way out” had always worked in my favor. That was up until November 22nd, 2022. I had just gotten out of school for Thanksgiving break and looked forward to spending time with my family while also being excited to go out and get extra softball reps in during the break. All felt right, up until on the way home from school when my mom, brother and I were involved in a head-on car crash.
I experienced whiplash in my left shoulder from impact, but I soon learned my physical injuries would not be the biggest obstacle I would face during this time.
My routine was completely thrown off. My new scheduled consisted of school, the chiropractor, physical therapy and on the very few days I was even able to make, softball practice, I had no choice but to sit and watch as everyone played the game I had always enjoyed more than anything.
Throughout all of this, I noticed myself isolating from the world around me. It felt like my life was over, I couldn’t play softball and I sensed no changes in my physical injuries. I spent a great amount of time pushing those away from me who wanted nothing more than to help me.
I noticed my mental health decline. I was in tears more times than I can count and felt like I was letting everyone around me down. Questions raced through my head:
What if I can’t help my team this season?
What if I am not healed for travel ball this season?
What if I am not recovered enough to play next year at Western Washington University?
With all of these thoughts constantly filtering through my mind, I felt like a failure because of an accident that was completely out of my control. The worst part. was that I thought if I shared these feelings with those around me, people would think I was weak. I felt so vulnerable and refused to open up these feelings which led to the unhealth isolation habits.
My mom was my biggest supporter throughout this situation. She recognized what was going on and reminded me continuously that in order for me to ever get back to softball, I need to shift my mindset. I need to accept my feelings, realize that I am NOT weak and that I am NOT letting people around me down. She engraved into my brain that I was more than what my thoughts told me and never lost faith in me, even when I had lost faith in myself.
Once I was finally able to open up to those around me about my pent up feelings, I found great improvement in my physical recovery. Three months had passed since the accident and I was finally back to light practice in time for the season.
I recieved some of the best honors of my career. I won a state championship, earned the Washington State 3A Softball Player of the Year, my second TAC Softball Player of the Year honor and my third Conference Pitcher of the Year honor.
At the college level, I have gotten the opportunity of playing at a higher level pitching in college. I have never felt so good, physically or mentally.
Mental health was something that I never thought much about until this accident. It has taken me 18 years to realize that if I do not have a healthy mind, I do not have a healthy body and cannot perform to my full potential. There are still days where I feel mentally exhausted, and I have had to learn this is completely normal.
My biggest goal of sharing this story is to raise awareness of mental health. You are not alone, there are always people that would rather hear your feelings than sit and watch you struggle alone. Although this concept took me far too long to learn, I hope other people can hear my story and feel strong enough to share how their feelings with those around them.