The entire month of May is mental health awareness month. When we talk about mental health — or if we do — it can often be met with some discomfort. More often than not the topic of mental health is the elephant in the room; everyone can see and feel it, but no one wants to quite acknowledge it.
That conversation has changed and opened up a bit more lately, with the phrase, “It’s Okay Not Be Okay” being a large part of the changing conversation about mental health in our country. In fact, a silver lining in the recent pandemic just might be that it has given us permission to talk about the importance of mental health more freely.
In my experience as a performance consultant, coach, parent, and as a licensed mental health provider, mental health affects performance and performance affects mental health. The list of athletes who have been open about this is growing.
No one is immune. No one is perfect.
Several years ago I was in a serious bicycle accident and, as a result, developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It was bad. Night after night of flashbacks, fits of crying, panicked in crowds, and an intense fear that I was in danger of losing everything I had worked for in my life. Sometimes I was even convinced that I was going to die if I went back to sleep.
In my healing process, I realized that many of the myths I worked to bust were hooking me. In the process, I learned that there were other things–like a serious car accident at 19, a tough trip to the dentist–that were interfering with my ability to live life according to my values. Simply, I believed I was smart enough and educated enough to be immune. I swallowed the hook. My body and my mind disagreed.
Even knowing this, I thought that I did not need any help. I assumed I had it all figured out. It was easier to just bury it, hide it, and hope it goes away.
But my wife made me aware that the plan downright sucked. She was right (as usual).
I got help. I worked on Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing and Brain Spotting. I made lifestyle adjustments.
Both forms of therapy were intense but extremely helpful. In the end, the whole process made me better at my job, but more importantly made me a better dad, husband, and person. My hope in sharing is that it helps at least one person give themselves permission to ask for help and begin changing the conversation in their own head.
I went through an intense process to get where I am now. Now I’m free of intense flashbacks, back to feeling safe in crowds, and look forward to having an even bigger impact on the world.
Lastly, I want to share with you a Ted Talk I watched about mental health and athletes.
I have also attached a PDF with information about mental health and resources you can use if you think you need help.
If you need a referral for yourself or someone else, hit me up, I would be happy to help point you in the right direction.