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The Art of Battling Depression by Successful Sportspersons
By  Nagamani  -
December 28, 2023

 is a globally prevalent illness that has a detrimental impact on how people feel, think, and act. It is also the biggest cause of disability in the United States. Depression is estimated to afflict more than 300 million people worldwide, and it is also one of the most frequent mental disorders in the United States.

We may all suffer symptoms such as sorrow, loss of interest, lack of enjoyment from daily activities, and so on at some point in our life. For the most part, these symptoms are a perfectly typical reaction to unpleasant or stressful circumstances, such as the end of a romantic relationship or financial difficulties. Negative sentiments are frequently severe and overwhelming at first, but they fade away as time passes. However, if these sentiments persist, they may significantly impact people’s lives and lead to despair.

Hence, people need to understand that this is more than just mere sadness and weakness of character and seek help when suffering from depression. With proper medication and counseling, we can recover from this ailment.

Here are few sportsmen who have battled depression and have overcome it.

“If you’re not on your ‘A’ game in our workouts every day, you’re going to get absolutely smoked.”

 Michael Phelps

With a total of 28 medals, retired competition swimmer Michael Phelps is the most successful and decorated Olympian of all time, but that didn’t make him immune to depression and anxiety. “I think I slid into a severe state of depression after every Olympics,” Phelps said in a 2018 interview with CNN, admitting to self-medicating with drugs and contemplating suicide. Through the Michael Phelps Foundation and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, he now uses his experience to help others.

“I’m definitely looking to put together a full season. I know what I’m capable of doing. I want to be the kind of player my teammates can depend on.”

Khalil Greene

“It was challenging to concentrate and maintain my energy level,” Greene added. “I spent all of my energy trying to keep myself in check. I’m just trying to get myself to function, to stay in the game and not think about what I’m thinking too much. It’s a constant effort to remain calm. I’m battling it and trying to come to terms with it, trying to come up with coping techniques.”

“I love playing under pressure. In fact, if there’s no pressure then I’m not in the perfect zone.”

Virat Kohli

Virat Kohli has admitted that he struggled with depression during a terrible tour of England in 2014, during which he felt like the “loneliest guy in the world” following a succession of batsmanship failures.

“It’s not a pleasant feeling to wake up knowing you’re not going to be able to score runs,” he said. “I think all batsmen have felt like they’re not in control of anything at some point.”

According to Kohli, Sachin instructed him that the best way to deal with a powerful unpleasant sensation is to let it pass rather than battling it, which just serves to make it stronger.

“I concentrate on preparing to swim my race and let the other swimmers think about me, not me about them.”

Amanda Beard

In her 2012 memoir “In The Water They Can’t See You Cry,” Olympic gold medalist swimmer Amanda Beard revealed that she struggled with depression and self-harmed as a coping mechanism, as well as anorexia, bulimia, and drug misuse..

In a 2012 interview, Beard remarked, “Know that you’re not alone; there are millions of individuals around the country and throughout the world who are experiencing the same things that you are.”

“Running is my therapy”

Rob Krar

“It’s something I’ve struggled with for a very long time and have been quiet about. I had this sense beforehand that a lot of people have struggled with similar things, but I didn’t quite understand the extent. I think it’s really a very common thing especially amongst runners and maybe even more so with ultrarunners.“

Everything comes at a cost. Just what are you willing to pay for it?”

Serena Williams

Serena Williams may have had a wildly successful career as a global tennis champion, but that didn’t protect her from succumbing to despair. Following injuries and health issues, Williams confessed in 2011 that she had been suffering depression since winning Wimbledon the previous year. “I couldn’t stop crying.

In a 2011 interview with The Telegraph, she remarked, “I was horrible to be around.” Following the birth of her daughter Olympia in 2017, Williams opened up about her postpartum depression.

“Hey, if you’re feeling suicidal — even if I don’t know you — know that I care. Know that lil of me thinks you’re important and deserve to be here!”

Imani Boyette

Basketball professional Imani Boyette has been living with depression since her childhood, when a family member raped her. First, at the age of 10 she tried to kill herself and made two more attempts to kill herself. Boyette now is the Oregon based non-profit Sparks of Hope’s spokesman and summer camp advisor. She tells her story to raise mental health awareness, particularly in the African-American community, and to assist children who have been abused.

“All players have ‘ordinary’ periods in their career and it’s hard to explain why. So at these times, it’s all about self-belief, hard work, and hopefully, you get the break, and your form returns.”

Ryan Giggs

However, the United legend suffered from mental illness and now openly shares his experience with the ailment. Ryan Giggs has opened up on the fragile nature of top-level football and acknowledged that he had sought professional counselling from a psychiatrist during his playing days, which was a taboo subject for many years.

“Being vulnerable is not weakness.”

Allison Schmitt

Allison Schmitt, an Olympic swimmer, made her battle with depression public in 2015. When her teenage cousin committed suicide, she was moved to share her story in order to improve mental health awareness.

She currently gives talks about mental illness in schools and at gatherings. In a 2017 interview with Women’s Health, she noted, “Being vulnerable is not a sign of weakness.” “It demonstrates that you are strong enough to recognize that life can be difficult at times and that you require assistance.”

“I see a completely different side of myself and I want people to see that other side of myself.”

Glenn Maxwell

The flamboyant Australian all-rounder took a vacation from cricket. In October 2019, he took a vacation from cricket to prepare for their series against Sri Lanka. He played well in the Big Bash League when he returned in December (BBL). He stated that being on the field for the previous four to five years had mentally exhausted him. “I was quite fried when I chose to take time off,” he remarked in an interview with ESPNcricinfo.

One of the main reasons I took that time off was that I was mentally and physically exhausted. I guess I was on the road for eight months, living out of a suitcase, and it had probably been going on for four or five years, just constantly on the go, and it all caught up with me at that point.”

“I’ve gotten to a point where I realize that happiness doesn’t come from the outside.”

Ricky Williams

Ex-NFL star Ricky Williams is all the proof you need that fame and fortune don’t keep depression at bay. In an interview with the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, he remarked, “I was 23, a millionaire, and I had everything, yet I was never more unhappy in my life” (ADAA). “Because I couldn’t express how I was feeling to my friends and family, I felt terribly alienated. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me.” Williams was diagnosed with depression as well as social anxiety disorder later in life. “I want to thank all my fans, teammates, coaches, and supporters for giving me the strength to endure so much,” he stated.

“When life puts you in tough situations, don’t say ‘Why me?’ just say ‘Try me.”

Dwayne “THE ROCK” Johnson

“I realized that one of the most essential things you can recognize with depression is that you’re not alone,” Dwayne remarked in an interview. “You aren’t the first one to experience it… I wish I could have had someone there at the moment to simply pull me aside and say, ‘Hey, it’ll be fine.’”

“When you’ve got something to prove, there’s nothing greater than a challenge”

Terry Bradshaw

“I thought maybe I might help people with awareness, help men get strength and courage,” Terry said in an interview. “I’ve encountered people who have made fun of me, including several of my coworkers. People have tried to make fun of it. Depression is a serious condition that should not be taken lightly. It’s a serious situation.”
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