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Tyler Lewin: Loving the Game Again

TW: eating disorder

First was COVID, then came a career-crushing injury, and then came the death of a beloved pet. Then, something I never thought I would experience happened: I developed an eating disorder.

My journey with anorexia was a tough one. I was excessively working out, lifting every single day, doing excessive cardio, and eating too little. I went home early and was able to recover during the summer (or so I thought), getting restored to a weight where I could play for my junior year.

Junior year was amazing, we beat the nationally ranked #5 and #23 teams and set school records, but something didn’t feel right for me; I wasn’t enjoying it. We’d have a large win and I’d go back to my room and feel empty. I slowly fell out of love with playing the game, and I realized it was time to hang up my boots.

The season ended and as my battle with mental health continually progressed, my anorexia came rearing back, harder than ever before. I went back home, transferring to UMBC and commuting for my senior year. I had to forgo playing soccer. Given all the changes, I didn’t know how to maintain control. I was excessively starving myself to the point that my body started failing. I had a few health scares to the point where I was nearly hospitalized. I was at an all-time low.

Here I was, someone who was such a stark advocate for mental health, for standing up for yourself and for seeking support; yet I felt like a failure, not doing this for myself and being hypocritical.

When you’re in the depths of an eating disorder, no matter how many people try to help, you continually convince yourself you’re fine. After battling with many people about going to an inpatient facility, one day I woke up and realized this is not the life I want to live. I couldn’t bear the damage and mental distress I was putting my mom through, I couldn’t deal with my quality of life and knew that if I wanted a future, I needed to make changes fast.

That day I remember going grocery shopping, we went to Trader Joe’s and I bought food with the full intent to buy it but never eat it. At lunch, I had mac and cheese, and after that point, I started feeding myself more, continually eating day in and day out. I took several months off the gym, something I never thought I would do. This was quite possibly the hardest thing I have ever been through, but I could not be happier now.

Reflecting a year later, it turns out my love for the game was never truly gone, but rather temporarily stolen from me by my eating disorder. While I may not be playing, I’m still loving the game.

I currently work as a graduate assistant coach. Coaching has been an amazing experience where I have great opportunities to learn from coaches and also get to coach the athletes myself. My life experiences have all led me to this point; everything God has put me through has cultivated a life where now I can relate to so many things that the guys are going through. I’m able to advocate for their mental health, I’m able to be there to facilitate and have uncomfortable conversations. If I had never shared my story with THO, I don’t know where I’d be today. I was blessed to be one of the first men to share my mental health story through THO and start conversations around mental health in men's sports.

We all go through ups and downs in our lives. Never hesitate to reach out and check if people are doing okay. Always know that it’s okay to not be okay. Know that men can go through things too, and shouldn’t be afraid to speak up. Most importantly, give yourself the compassion and knowledge that just because you may be in a dip down doesn’t mean you’re failing. Every setback is a setup for a comeback!



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