If you know me you’ll know that I LOVE gym. Gym in one form or another has been my entire life. It is my passion and it is my therapy, but there are days like today that it is the last place I want to be.
On days like today I don’t want to pretend I am ok.
Most of the members at my gym know about my illness. I’ve been pretty open about it. They probably wouldn’t even notice that I’m ‘off’. Or care. But I care. I don’t want to be the dark and negative energy that I feel I am when I’m depressed. I don’t want that around my friends.
I’m supposed to be an inspiration. A motivator.
On days like today I am just sad Athena.
Today’s depression got me thinking about athletes and mental illness. I tried to find other bodybuilders that have spoken out about their illness but I couldn’t find any.
I did find a lot of others though. People I did not expect.
That’s just a few.
For most people it seems almost impossible to believe that the most decorated Olympian ever locked himself in a room for 4 days with thoughts of suicide.
For most people. Not for me.
Did you know that athletes might be at a greater risk for mental illness? Injuries, competitive failures and over training can lead to psychological stress. I read a recent NCAA study that found that over the course of a year 30% of the athletes studied reported feeling depressed and half of them experienced high levels of anxiety.
I know society looks at athletes and thinks they are superhuman. That they are immune from such mortal problems and even if they do suffer they can overcome it with ease. That is not the case. They are just like you and me. But sometimes it’s harder for them to ask for help because of their status. Who will believe them?
Speaking from experience, when I was dealing with my knee injury few people recognized that I was heading down a dark road. When I tried to talk about how I felt I was met with comments like, “You’ll get over it.” “It’s not the end of the world”. You can still walk/train”. No one realized the physical injury was taking a toll on my mental state as well. Eventually I stopped talking about it. If I had to answer someone I would give them the answer they expected. That I was strong and I would deal and overcome.
We don’t want pity. We are not weak. We want help. We need help. And from what I have read today that help is finally coming to those in the sports arena. It’s about time.
Meanwhile I feel guilty for not training today. The guilt feeds the depression. I ask myself why can’t I just get my ass up and go.
It’s ok if I don’t. It’s just a day. Tomorrow I will be better. Tomorrow I will go. Tomorrow I will love gym again.