1 in 4 college athletes suffer from depression. I am that one.
From a young age, I’ve always lived my life trying to please the people around me, trying to do the right thing, and trying to live that “perfect” life. I’ve always made good grades, I played 3 sports in high school, I went to church every Sunday, and I was on track to graduating college ahead of time. So it might be shocking to some people that I am that 1 athlete that suffers from depression.
You know the nervous feeling you get when you’re about to play in the big game, take the big test, or even make a big decision? What about the lump you get in your throat that makes you feel like you can’t breathe right before the tears start to fall. It’s the empty feeling or confusion that makes it so hard to deal with. It’s the sadness that overcomes you when you know you have to get out of the bed to just try to make it through a day that seems like it will never end.
It’s the feeling of loneliness when you’re sitting by yourself and your thoughts consume you. It’s even the feeling of anger that overtakes you and you don’t understand why it has to be you.
A feeling of hopelessness when you wonder why you even try because nothing good can come out of trying anymore. It’s the feeling of being afraid that you have to finally speak up and find the help that you desperately need.
The weight of embarrassment you carry when in the back of your mind you know that not everyone will understand what’s going on when you try your hardest to explain it to them.
Confusion because you don’t even know what’s wrong. It’s the feeling of the little white pills swirling around in the bottle as you decide if it’s really worth it. “What will my family do? What if my roommate finds me? How will my boyfriend feel? Will it be a cop out? Will I go straight to hell? Do I leave a note?”
All these feelings that make me that one college athlete that suffers from anxiety and depression.
I knew that something was wrong when it became a big deal to get out of the bed. This became difficult because I knew that if I got up and left the house, I would be faced with responsibilities that I didn’t think I could handle.
When I would finally muster up the courage to leave, the house I would get a nervous and sad feeling that would overtake me, but I had no idea why I was feeling that way. I would be around so many people, but feel so alone.
I would cry, but nothing was wrong. I had a constant nervous feeling, about what, I had no idea. It was hard to smile and even harder to laugh and I knew that something was really wrong. My days were full of classes, workouts, tutors, and homework; but the depression and anxiety always found a way to work itself into my day.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7
I tried to hide these terrible and confusing feelings from everyone that I could, but what was going on inside of me began to show up on the outside. I wasn’t myself anymore. I couldn’t eat. I struggled to sleep. My grades were slipping. I was missing class and suicidal thoughts started to fill my head.
I couldn’t figure out what I did to deserve what I was going through. I had gotten to the point to where I was just tired of being tired. I was praying and it seemed like God wasn’t even listening.
I tried to remind myself that everything was going to be okay and that I was going to come out of this difficult situation that I was in a bigger and better person than I was, but I didn’t really believe the things that I was telling myself. When I began to have suicidal thoughts I knew that someone needed to know that I was going through so I began to throw hints about what was going on to my boyfriend.
I was praying that he would have the answer to what would make me feel better through this tough time. He finally convinced me to open up to my parents about the things that I was really going through.
I wasn’t sure how I could explain to my parents that I was going through so much without them knowing that anything was going on. I didn’t want them to feel like they weren’t doing an amazing job as parents because they were doing everything and more to make sure that I was well taken care of even while I was in school.
I knew that I wouldn’t be able to have this conversation face to face with my parents so I decided that I would send a text message to my mom to give her an idea of what was really going on behind all the I’m doing great text messages that I was sending every day.
“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8
I decided that I needed the help of a professional and soon after, I began seeing a physiologist who has been such a major part of my recovery.
I decided that I would take a break from basketball to focus on my personal and mental health and just getting better as a whole. I spent time at home surrounded by amazing people like my family, my boyfriend, and my best friend, Makayla.
It made a huge difference. I was surrounded by so many prayers, and a lot of love, and I began to notice a change in my happiness. This time at home was great, but also hard. I was no longer worrying about school, basketball, and everything else that came with college, but my main focus was on having to face what was really going on in my life.
I’ve had some very amazing people that have stuck by my side through everything that has been going on and I’m so thankful for that. My family has understood me on my good days and my not so good days.
My boyfriend has stuck it out through the good, the bad, and the real ugly. My roommate, Victoria, has been more of a blessing than she will ever know. And lastly my amazing friend, Makayla, has been there through everything and she has listened to even the smallest complaints from over 300 miles away. Through everything that has been going on, God has still been doing some amazing things in my life and I am nothing but blessed, for this journey I know that better days are coming.
Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.”
Someday I will.