I really want to talk about my final first track meet which is coming up tomorrow, but instead I want to get some stuff off my chest.
It is painfully frustrating being essentially told, “Leave it to the professionals.”
To give some context, this past Sunday I did a presentation in front of my whole track team about the importance of having conversations about mental illnesses, and tips on how to have those conversations.
The reason I pushed to have this meeting was because I had personally had become involved in handful of mental health related situations with various teammates. Now while I will never push someone away and always be supportive, but after an incident that happened over this past Winter Break, I had begun to feel that even thought there are 40+ people on this team, when it came to mental health i was the person people were going to. This worried me for two reasons:
- I am graduating in May 2018 (a good portion of the situations I had become involved with involved younger teammates).
- I go through shit too, and honestly, didn’t want to feel like the team counselor.
So over Winter Break I was thinking and realized that the culture of how mental health on this team is handled needed to change. I reached out to the upperclassmen and mentioned to them how I believed the issue of mental illnesses on this team was something that needed to be addressed.
Thankfully, they were super supportive, as well as the coaches. My head coach and I worked on the presentation, and we went over it with the upperclassmen before I presented in front of the whole team. The meeting went over well (or as well as my anxiety fueled brain told me it went).
It wasn’t until the next following days I realized that the meeting went over better than I expected. I had heard from a handful of teammates, that the meeting helped encourage them to look into their own mental illness, and some others expressed how it was comforting to hear that the team was taking this serious.
So I’ve been wanting to give the option to do the presentation with other individual teams. The push back has been that since I’m not a professional counselor, psychologist, etc., it might come across wrong.That it may come across that I’m telling people information about mental illness as if I was a professionally. Or maybe as a graduating senior, it seem that I don’t have the proper training needed to handle a topic like this.
But I have never claimed to be a professional. I know that there are professionals. I see a professional once a month.
I do know though, that you can tell people to get help, and how to get said help, but if the environment doesn’t feel supported, if they don’t feel supported, then they will never get the help that they actually need.
And that’s where I come in.
I want to change the culture of mental illness in amateur athletics.
And I know I’ll be accepted much easier than some psychologist, because I live it. I live it now, every day, not 20+ years ago.
I want to open the door to encourage people to get help, not be the professional standing behind the door.
I want people to trust that I know what I’m doing. (I will mention that I’m not bashing anyone in the admin side of things, and in reality they have been more inviting than I could have imagined. It’s just I’m so used to hitting the ground running, so any little hump in the way makes me feel very inpatient. It also brings up insecurities of not being good enough, which does not reflect on anyone else but my own demons. )
But just because there’s a little push back doesn’t mean I’m going to back down, no. I will work harder, I will change the culture. I know I can do it.
Even if it’s with a handful of teammates, and the culture of my own team. I’ll take it because progress, no matter how “small” is still progress.
And anyone struggling to come to terms with or embrace your own mental illness, please remember this, and this is what I want to finish off with:
Mental illness does not mean mental weakness.
See you all in next week (I’m moving up from every two weeks).