Basketball has given me the best and worst times of my life, but I wouldn’t change anything that has happened these past 14 years because I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the lessons my sport has taught me.
I’ve hit buzzer-beaters, celebrated championships, met some of my best friends, but have also suffered from performance anxiety, depression, disordered eating, and two season-ending injuries. I suppressed what I was going through mentally because I thought I had it all and that I should be grateful for being in the position that I was in. I thought I could handle it, but I couldn’t. It eats at you. It consumes you until you resent the one thing in your life that you worked so hard for— the game that you love.
The first semester of my sophomore year of college, I took a 17 hour credit semester on top of my sport, lost 10+ pounds because ‘I had no time to eat,’ had my first panic attack because I failed a test, and got into a car accident. It took all of that for me to admit that I needed help.
I let my guard down and opened up to my family and close friends, I met with our campus dietician, I started playing basketball for myself again, and I lessened my course load. I can’t say that I’m ‘cured’ because maintaining your mental health is a process and it’s one that you have to embrace and work through every day, but I can say that it feels as if a weight was lifted from my shoulders.
I became a mental health advocate after seeing a post from The Hidden Opponent. Through them, I found a community of student-athletes who had either gone through or were currently experiencing what I was struggling with. I realized that my struggles were common, and I no longer felt alone. This community made me want to share my story and advocate for those who are still suffering in silence.
To anyone who feels like they can’t open up about their struggles: It’s okay not to be okay, but it’s not okay to avoid taking action for yourself. Seek help and start feeling better 🙂