TW: suicidal ideation
I knew there was an issue when I prayed on my downfall. I wished the worst would happen just to avoid being on the diamond. I wished I was in a car accident on the way to practice, or that I would tear a ligament and be out for months, or to break a bone. All this just to avoid playing softball. These fantasies of mine developed to the point where I would wish I did not wake up in the morning, just to skip softball. Little did I know, I already was injured. My injury, however, was mental and not physical.
I began playing softball at the young age of 4. Ever since I was born, I have held a bat in my hand. A love ever so pure developed into a hateful, toxic relationship with the sport. The little girl who would show so much passion on the diamond, who would arrive to practice early and stay late, who would aspire to be an amazing collegiate athlete, was gone. She is still gone to this very day. The little girl who fell in love, eventually became a collegiate athlete who fell into a spiral of suicidal thoughts, anxiety, and depression.
What happened? Slowly but surely, softball became a chore. Waking up in the morning was dreadful knowing I had to be on the diamond that day. I would cry before practice, have anxiety attacks, and nearly act on suicidal thoughts. I was tired. The lifts, practices, double headers all just became too much. Eventually, life became a chore. The things I had once enjoyed, were things that became a burden to do. I used to love the gym, for example. It was the one place, the only place, I could find some sense of peace within my mind. That became a chore too. Even in the off-season, going to the place I once found peace in was exhausting. I no longer found interest in caring for my physical health, because mentally I could not keep up.
Even though my mental health was in the worst possible place, I still could not find it in me to quit. To leave the sport that had given me so many friends, amazing coaches, and life skills that I carry with me, seemed impossible. Not only was I sure I would disappoint myself, but I was positive I would disappoint my parents, coaches, and teammates. I get anxiety playing softball, and now the thought of quitting even gave me anxiety. Even after seeking treatment for anxiety and depression, even after taking anti-depressants for years now, the pressure to stay in the sport was all-consuming.
Finally, I had gotten the professional help that I needed, yet I still had so much negative energy surrounding the sport. The pressure to perform was overwhelming, but the stigmatization around quitting was staggering. My parents had paid so much money and invested so much time in me to become a collegiate athlete. Even in college, they still invest so much time and money into seeing me play, and they love to do it. My present coaches also have invested so much time in me to become not only a better softball player, but a well-rounded, self-sufficient individual. Even past coaches love to come watch how I have grown on the diamond and as a person as well. And my teammates. They commit so much of their time and energy to this sport in a way I know I can’t do anymore. We are devoted to each other so dearly and support each other so greatly, that I struggle to walk away from that connection.
But recently everything became so clear to me that the reason my parents, coaches, and teammates invest so much time in me is because they love me. They may not understand exactly what I’m going through, or what so many others go through, but I know they love me. Because of that love, I know I’ll be supported through my struggles. Quitting is okay, and I know that now. My mental health deserves to be prioritized, for it is just as important as my physical health.
Now that I have quit, I am refocusing on my love for the activities I was unable to spend time on because of softball. I am learning to love the gym again and learning to love the process of growth. I am also learning to be a better student and Resident Advisor, while prioritizing myself and what I need. Taking time out of my day to read, something I once loved to do, is another activity I am focusing on. I am also able to try new things as well, such as journaling. Every day I have been writing about what I am grateful for, what I look forward to, thing I enjoyed throughout the day, and more. Life without softball has been different, but in the way that I feel like I can finally breathe again. Quitting has been the best decision for me. Nobody should have to suffer through the constant battles that I was wrecked with every single day.