7 Inspiring Quotes From Athletes Who Live With Mental Illness

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If you think you have nothing in common with professional athletes, think again. Mental illness can affect anyone, even our athletic heroes who go for the gold. But mental illness can be especially hard for athletes to talk about because they’re not supposed to show signs of “weakness.”

But some athletes have openly discussed their mental health issues, proving strength and mental illness can go hand-in-hand.

Here are seven inspiring things athletes have said about mental health: 

1. “It took putting one foot in front of the other every single day to get through it to the point where I made it back on the team and won a gold medal in 2008. You’re always going to survive the pain of loss.” — Hope Solo, USA, soccer, on depression

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2. “I know talking about mental health problems is a difficult subject matter to many people, but I hope me being honest about my illness offers others some support and helps people realize they are not alone. I have made a full recovery now, but felt a break from the pressures of competing professionally was necessary for my mental health.” — Jack Green, Great Britain, track and field, on depression

3.I remember looking at myself in the mirror and wondering where the Olympic Athlete went. She was still there, but I had to find her. I had to learn how to appreciate all aspects of myself — including accepting myself as someone who lives with a mental illness. Bipolar disorder is not all of who I am, but learning to live with it has impacted who I have become.” — Amy Gamble, USA, hand ball, on bipolar disorder

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4.A lot of people have to accept that psychological and physical injuries are at the same level of intensity. They can do the same level of damage to somebody’s self confidence and their ability to perform.” — Oliver Bone, Canada, sailing, on depression

5. “Mental health is not a very easy thing to talk about in sports. It’s not perceived as very masculine. We’re so trained to be “mentally tough,” in sports. To show weakness, we’re told, in so many words, is to deserve shame. But I am here to show weakness. And I am not ashamed.” — Mardy Fish, USA, tennis player, on anxiety

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6. “Today, guys, I take my medicine every day, and I try to inspire others to do the same. Because I finally listened,” Charles Haley, football, on bipolar disorder

7.Nobody wants to feel dependent on something. Nobody wants to think she can’t be in control, especially an athlete. But we can’t control everything.” — Wendy Williams, USA, diving, on depression

wendyy

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Artist Who Lives With Anxiety Reimagines Mental Illnesses as Monsters

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Instead of living in fear of his anxiety, U.K.-based artist Toby Allen decided to draw it out, as if it were a monster. He found the act helpful in dealing with his mental health issues, so he embarked on a project to draw other mental illnesses as well.

The project originated from imagining my own anxieties as monsters and finding it to be a cathartic and healing process to draw them,” Allen told The Huffington Post. “It made them feel weaker and I was able to look at my own anxiety in a comical way. I wanted to expand upon this idea and draw other representations of mental illnesses that could help people in the same way it helped me.”

Allen called his project “Real Monsters.”

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Courtesy of Toby Allen

“Real Monsters” features illustrations of how Allen imagines well-known mental illnesses like depression and schizophrenia, as well as lesser known conditions like body dysmorphic disorder and selective mutism. The images also come with descriptions.

The artwork is not at all intended to make light of these conditions but instead is intended to give these intangible mental illnesses some substance, raise awareness and make them appear more manageable as physical entities,” Allen wrote on his site.

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Courtesy of Toby Allen

Allen hopes people who live with mental illness can relate to the work and that it can help them see their mental illness in a new, potentially more manageable light, HuffPost reported. Allen told the outlet that since he first started posting these drawings on Tumblr in 2013, he’s received hundreds of messages of thanks from people who have found the project helpful.

See more of Allen’s “Real Monsters” below:

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Courtesy of Toby Allen
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Courtesy of Toby Allen
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Courtesy of Toby Allen
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Courtesy of Toby Allen
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Courtesy of Toby Allen
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Courtesy of Toby Allen
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Courtesy of Toby Allen
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Courtesy of Toby Allen
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Courtesy of Toby Allen
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Courtesy of Toby Allen
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Courtesy of Toby Allen
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Courtesy of Toby Allen

You can buy prints of “Real Monsters” here.

h/t Bored Panda

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What Your Child's Therapist Wants You To Know

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Dear Parents,

I just met you today. We spent an hour together discussing your child, your parenting, your life and your struggles. We came up with a plan for how to help your child, and maybe we made another appointment. An hour isn’t long enough.

This is what I wish you knew:

I wish you knew that I’m a parent too. I wish you knew my kids aren’t perfect, and neither am I. I wish you knew I’m not judging you for any of your parenting choices, and I don’t think you’ve ruined your kid. I wish you knew the extent of poor parenting I’ve seen, and how I think you’re doing just fine.

I wish you knew that I trust you. I know I’m an expert in my field, but you’re the expert of your child. I will never know him as well as you. I may see her for 50 minutes a week, but you’re parenting her the other 10,030 minutes. I trust you when you tell me what she needs. I trust you when you say a strategy won’t work for her, and I want to hear more about why. 

I wish you knew if I think your child may have a diagnosis, I really think about how to talk to you about it. I know that information is powerful and can be helpful, but also harmful. I am intentional with my language in an effort to be sensitive. I try to think about how I would want to hear this.

I wish you knew I want your family to see success. My job is more than just a paycheck to me. I spend time outside of session reading, researching, planning and preparing for you and your child. My job is challenging and at times draining, but coming to work fills me with hopeful energy. I love the work I do and the people I work with. I genuinely hope things improve for you, and I want to work with you.

There’s a saying in the mental health world, “If you think you’ve ruined your child, you probably have. If you think you haven’t, you definitely have.” I wish you knew I think that’s true for all of us. The only parents I worry about are the ones who think they have it all together.

We’re in this together.

Signed,

Your Child’s Therapist

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What I'm Asking From You As Someone Who's Experienced Suicidal Thoughts

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I’ve never talked about suicide before. It’s not easy to come to terms with and it’s not easy to open up about — especially since there’s a huge stigma surrounding not only death but mental health in general. No one wants to talk about it, and I believe this is part of the reason so many lives are lost to suicide each year.

While I’ve never attempted suicide and have always had a healthy appreciation of life, when I started experiencing depression (which had started a few years ago) all that changed. Suddenly, life was no longer enjoyable. It was hard to even get out of bed and get dressed. For a long time I was often angry, and most of the time the anger was irrational and unfathomable. When confronted with the knowledge I might be suffering from depression, I tried to laugh it off and deny it. 

Last year, the depression finally caught up with me. Between two jobs where the service I provide is often thankless, I was at the end of my patience and couldn’t see what was so great about living. I felt like a rubber band that had been stretched so often and so much I’d lost my elasticity. I started developing what psychologists refer to as “passive suicidal thoughts,” where instead of actively seeking out death or planning suicide attempts, I wanted to die or just disappear. After all, I believed, no one would care if I did.

Near the end of 2014, as I went to work daily, I often choked back tears, working hard to pass as “normal.” In fact, no one noticed anything was wrong except my husband. When he was finally able to convince me to go seek professional help, I was reluctant. I didn’t see any benefit to talking to a complete stranger. But my husband is persistent, and he convinced me to go. I went just so that he could stop asking me if I’d made an appointment yet. But when I was diagnosed with mild anxiety and moderate depression, I was relieved. Now I could say for certain I wasn’t imagining my problems.

Since starting therapy in April, my suicidal thoughts have decreased drastically. It’s been 17 sessions and I can say for certain I’ve seen improvement in my mental well-being. Though I still struggle with suicidal thoughts, I’m thankful I’m taking the steps toward recovery. 

We, people who experience depression, can be good at hiding our woes because we don’t want to burden others. But I don’t want your pity. Instead, I want this: I want you to reach out to someone you think might be suffering in silence. I want you to educate yourself to the signs of suicide. I want you to say, “Hey, are you OK? Can we talk about it?”

As for me, I’ll keep going. I can’t promise I won’t think about killing myself, but I can promise I’ll do whatever it takes to keep going. And don’t worry about me. My therapist is keeping an eye on my mental health and has assured me he’s there for me. But not everyone has that luxury. If you can, go out there and be that person for someone.

If you or someone you know needs help, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

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18 Messages for Those Who've Lost a Loved One to Suicide

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Suicide leaves those who are touched by it with a unique kind of grief, filled with unanswered questions, stigma from those who don’t understand, and sometimes immense guilt. With more than 800,000 people dying by suicide across the world each year, survivors — the name given to those who have lost a loved one to suicide — are plentiful.

This National Suicide Prevention Week, we gathered messages of hope and pieces of advice, from survivors to survivors, using Facebook responses from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

If you’ve recently lost a loved one to suicide, these might be words you need to hear:

1. “Allow yourself to grieve. We all grieve in our own time in our own way.” — Sally Ann Ganzer

2. “A person never truly gets ‘over’ a suicide loss. You get through it. Day by day. Sometimes it’s moment by moment.” — Holly Kohler

A quote from Holly Kohler that says, "A person never truly gets 'over' a suicide loss. You get through it. Day by day. Sometimes moment by moment."

3. “Know it wasn’t your fault. Know someday you may take comfort in educating people about suicide.” — Sue Mahlburg

4. “Everyone will have a different journey.” — Anji Sykes-Morey

A quote from Anji Sykes-Morey that says, "Everyone will have a different journey."

5. “Loss from suicide is like no other loss, and there’s no time limit for grieving. Allow yourself that time to process. And then talk to someone, anyone.” — Deenie Bagley

6. “Please reach out. Speak up. The worst thing you could do is to stay silent, like I did for so many years.” — Kelsey Elizabeth Oney

A quote from Kelsey Elizabeth Oney that says, "Please reach out. Speak up. The worst thing you could do is to stay silent, like I did for so many years."

7. “If you’ve lost a loved one to suicide — even if you, yourself, have dealt with depression and suicidal ideation — you may often wonder why. And that’s OK. Allow yourself that space.” — Karen Espenshade

8. “When I lost my brother to suicide, the most helpful thing for me was being part of a support group. Through that support I learned to honor my brother’s life and the wonderful person he was by sharing stories.” — Judie Zerilli

9. “Continue to live your life, know that it’s OK to smile again. Don’t ever be ashamed or let anyone make you feel ashamed.” — Jackie Burson

A quote from Jackie Burson that says, "Continue to live your life, know that it's OK to smile again. Don't ever be ashamed or let anyone make you feel ashamed."

10. “Read books written by other survivors. Write.” — Shakeena Faith

11. “One day you’ll wake up and things won’t hurt as bad. You’ll be able to remember the good things about your friend and not just the end. For me, that’s when I knew I was finally able to move on.” — Kristin Svinth

12. “One thing I learned is however I decided to grieve is the right way for me. Everyone’s different.” — Ron Prickett

13. “Don’t become a statistic yourself. Get counseling and be open to psychiatry if you need it.” — Christine Anderson

A quote from Christine Anderson that says, "Don't become a statistic yourself."

14. “Be patient with yourself. One day you’ll be able to celebrate the life and not focus on the method of death. Please, please, just be patient.” — Judi Swenson

15. “The best piece of advice I got was, ‘Once you accept that many, if not most, of your questions will never be answered, you can start to move forward.’” — Michele Starbeck

16. “You will survive, and you will find purpose in the chaos. Moving on doesn’t mean letting go.” — Mary VanHaute

A quote from Mary VanHaute that says, "You will survive, and you will find purpose in the chaos. Moving on doesn't mean letting go."

17. “So far, the best thing for me has been advocating during difficult times for prevention. It helps me to focus on the positive.” — Sherrie Gerdon

18. “The ‘ton of bricks’ that are thrust upon your shoulders by a loved ones’ suicide never goes away. But you do get stronger shoulders.” — Frank Kaufman

A quote from Frank Kaufman that says, "The 'ton of bricks' that are thrust upon your shoulders by a loved ones' suicide never goes away. But you do get stronger shoulders."

*Some answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.

If you or someone you know needs help, see our suicide prevention resources.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

18 Messages for Those Who've Lost a Loved One to Suicide

Related: Mental Health on The Mighty Podcast

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How One Mom's Brave Selfie Started a New Kind of Mental Health Movement

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When Erin Jones posted a selfie to her Facebook page last week, she was just being her usual open self. Jones often shares her journey as a mother to four children with special needs, and as a person on the autism spectrum with multiple chronic illnesses, anxiety and depression.

It wasn’t just an ordinary selfie — it was a photo to mark a momentous event in Jones’ life with mental illness. After nearly 14 years of dealing with anxiety and depression without medication, Jones finally decided to seek help. She snapped a picture with her prescriptions.

So this also happened yesterday. I have tried living this life without prescription help. It seems to have me on top of…

Posted by Mutha Lovin’ Autism on Wednesday, September 2, 2015

 

Jones feels it’s important to share her journey with others.

“Over the last few years of me opening up about my mental health, I have people constantly, privately and online, coming up to me saying, ‘Your honesty gets me through the day. Knowing I’m not alone, that my child is not alone, sustains us,’” Jones told The Mighty via Facebook message. “Just be honest about who you are. There’s a healing in it.”

After The Mighty published an article about Jones’ medication selfie on Wednesday, September 2, Jones received hundreds of messages from people thanking her for saying what they needed to hear. Jones estimates that she’s heard from at least 50 people who’ve told her they’ve filled a prescription, made an appointment to see a doctor or otherwise sought help because of her message.

“To know that by just being honest about my shortcomings, all of these people are receiving the help they need, is very humbling and overwhelming,” Jones told The Mighty.

After sharing her article, Jones noticed people were posting photos of themselves with their medication in the comment section on Facebook. It gave her the idea of starting a hashtag for people to share their medication and prescription selfies, and after collaborating with The Mighty, she started the hashtag #MedicatedAndMighty.

#MedicatedAndMighty has created a space for people to talk about their medication and help erase the stigma surrounding asking for help in the form of a prescription. For Jones, it’s also a reminder of the strength in community and the power of solidarity.

“That’s what this is all about,” Jones told The Mighty, “standing together.”

 

In support of Mutha Lovin’ Autism and Sammiches & Psych Meds Liam and I are sharing our pic.Yes, i got his permission….

Posted by A Legion for Liam on Saturday, September 5, 2015

Add your voice to the conversation by tweeting, Instagramming or Facebooking a prescription or medication selfie using the hashtag #MedicatedAndMighty.

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