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How Gabby Douglas Inspires Me as Someone With Depression

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I am an athlete.

I may not take part in a sport. I may not have a pedometer to track my steps every day. In fact, I don’t even go to the gym and work out. At least, I don’t work out physically.

But I have learned from watching the 2016 Women’s Gymnastics USA Olympic Trials that physical strength is only half of the battle. What seems to be just as important is working out the brain psychologically.

When I first saw Olympian Gabby Douglas in the 2012 London Olympics, I knew she was going to do well. Not only did she have the physical talent, but I could just see the happiness in her as she competed at each event. It was a contagious strength that seemed to carry through the entire Olympic Games that year. In fact, she was the Women’s Gymnastics All-Around Champion.

I was excited to watch her compete in the 2016 Olympic Trials. I wanted to see the smile on her face and the spunky personality that said she was happy and having fun. But when the camera landed on her, I knew something wasn’t right. She wasn’t smiling. She didn’t seem so spunky. And the commentators confirmed she had mentioned she lost the joy, and was struggling to change her mindset. My heart ached for her. It ached because I know that feeling.

Battling with others may be tough, but battling with yourself is even more difficult. As someone with depression, I know what it’s like to struggle with your own mind. I know what it’s like to have to fight to convince yourself that you are good enough and deserve to achieve the goals you are working towards. It is an exhausting battle.

But I am determined, like Gabby Douglas, to give it my all. And I may go through some periods of time that I don’t do as well. I may need some extra love and support. But I will continue my mental fight. And I will be the champion.

It really doesn’t matter if Gabby Douglas wins a medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics. It really doesn’t matter if she loses her grip on the uneven bars or falls off a balance beam. What’s most important is that she is enjoying herself and can get back up again.

Lead photo: Gabrielle Douglas

Originally published: August 8, 2016
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