Mental Health for Athletes: 4 Steps to Letting Someone Know You Are Struggling

The response the SwimSwam audience has had to our Mental Health for Athletes series is amazing. The reaction has been incredibly supportive and positive, so much so that two individuals have courageously shared their stories with our readers.

To read these stories follow the links below:

This process can be empowering and freeing, but it is nothing to be taken lightly.

Not many people are ready to publish their stories on a webpage that has an audience of over 300,000 on Facebook alone.

If you are struggling what are some ways that you can let others know that you need help?

It is not easy, it took me at least five years to ask for help and another three to four to really allow myself to accept it.

1. You Deserve Help

This was the first obstacle that I had to overcome. Like many who have experienced depression I did not feel that I deserved to be helped. I felt I would be a burden on others and that I should be able to deal with it.

Why should those I care about be dragged down by my negativity and hopelessness.

The fact is we all deserve help. Ask yourself how you would react if someone you cared about told you they were struggling?

Why do they deserve help, but you don’t? The answer is you both do.

2. Identify People You Trust

“They won’t understand.”

“Everyone might find out.”

“What if they no longer want to be my friend anymore?”

These are statements I made to myself when considering telling others about being challenged with Bipolar II disorder.

Eventually I asked myself who are the people I trust the most?

I wasn’t sure others would want to listen or be supportive. That is why I identified people who had earned my trust by showing they cared about me in the past.

I was still surprised how those I trusted cared as much as they did and accepting they were.

Who do you trust? It could be a friend, a family member, a teammate, a coach or a medical professional. These are the people who when they know you are struggling will want to help you in any way they can.

Trust that those you trust will react in a positive way, that they care about you and that they want to help and support you.

3. Talk in a Comfortable Environment

This was important for me and for the person listening.

I shared the information over coffee, something that we did regularly.

We were around people, but people that could care less about what we were talking about. This made me feel less intimidated and for me normalized the situation.

What environment are you comfortable in?

It could be the pool after a practice, in a meeting or in your apartment when visiting with a friend.

I found that when I thought about telling someone some where I wasn’t comfortable I almost never followed through. It added another element of fear.

I was comfortable was a coffee shop, where are you comfortable.

4. Know That You Are Not Alone

Over the past month three people have shared their stories on our website in the hope that it will empower others with similar challenges to be able to ask for help when they need it.

Knowing that you are not alone is a powerful feeling. Others have gone through similar experiences and got the help they deserved, so can you.

As Kristen Nunnelly put it, “It’s okay to not be okay.”

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About Jeff Grace

Jeff Grace

Jeff is a 500 hour registered yoga teacher who holds diplomas in Coaching (Douglas College) and High Performance Coaching (National Coaching Institute - Calgary). He has a background of over 20 years in the coaching profession, where he has used a unique and proven teaching methodology to help many achieve their …

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