The Jed FoundationChamique Holdsclaw, WNBA All-Star & Mental Health Advocate
Looking back on my life as a young adult, even a teenager, I know now that I was experiencing mental health issues. I would also experience mood swings that became more severe as I got older. Once I received my diagnosis, I felt a sense of relief knowing that what I was experiencing had a name and that there was the possibility for recovery; I felt less alone. But I also felt fear because I didn’t know of any other athletes who were speaking out about their mental health. I was afraid I was going to be rejected based on my mental illness.
Honestly, I knew I needed help before I actually sought help. I was ashamed that I was not able to control my moods and that I felt so hopeless. I lost days from not being able to move or being so depressed I couldn’t talk. I knew I needed help, but I also felt such despair.
“The stigma of mental illness in our society and in my community kept me from speaking out.”
Owning up to the fact that my mental health was a part of who I am. I was a professional athlete and I was battling mental illness. The stigma of mental illness in our society and in my community kept me from speaking out. I was terrified of what people would think about me, but my mental health got to a place where I was terrified of not getting the help that I desperately needed.
It was difficult and uncomfortable, but I wanted to understand, live and eventually thrive while managing my mental illness, so I leaned into speaking up. I had to focus on ending the stigma so that my former teammates, other professional athletes, and the next generation would feel more empowered to get help when they needed it.
That it is okay to ask for help. It was hard being a professional athlete and public figure, but I believe I have become a better person from the adversity I've had to overcome.
I workout every day—that's a must. If I am not able to get to the gym, then I take a walk, jog or hike to feel more balanced. I also like to get up before my family to meditate and just be still, silent and intentional with my day.