I feel scared that I won’t be successful.
I feel like a failure a lot of the time these past four weeks since being laid off.
I feel like I did not plan in the ways that I needed to plan to make sure I was ready for the real world after basketball ended.
In fact, it has almost been two years since the Paralympics…and I have all but almost gone crazy at times.
Just writing these words is making me cry.
The Post Paralympic/Olympic blues are so real.
But what is even more real…is the reality that I have never worked through my own problems that I tried so hard, and for so long, to run away from.
I have been living in high stress almost my entire life. That is what I am used to. High stress is the only way I know how to function. Without it, I collapse. I sink into a severe depression where the high stress then comes back as I try to fight my way out of the deep dark feelings and try so hard to find the will to even want to live.
If anyone could see inside my mind, my soul, they would realize that the struggle I fight everyday with depression is quite often unfathomable.
One thing I can say that I am impressed with about myself…is that I never gave up. Because in all honesty…I have no idea how I made it through what I did inside my mind…and how I was still able to do everything that I did.
The tears I have cried, starting long before my accident, could flood a river. The stress, the pain, the heartache I have felt…should have shattered my body into pieces, but somehow it didn’t. I remained in one piece, I grew stronger, and my desire to help others going through similar situations became a strong desire.
I know it’s hard. I know it’s real. I know there are a lot of people who don’t understand depression. I know there are people who don’t think it is real. There are people who tell me things like “just change your mindset. Stop thinking so negatively. Stop thinking so much.” and on and on. What these people don’t understand is that every time they tell me something like this they are only hurting me more. Or maybe I should say, they “were” only hurting me more. Because I am stronger now than I was then. I know they have no idea. I know it is not my fault that my mind does this to me. I know that I fight with everything I have, every single day, to get out there and change my mindset. They don’t know the storm I am fighting through. And that’s okay. I will just keep being me and I will continue to remind myself, and everyone around me, every single day, who I am. I will be honest, raw and real. I will share the good with the bad. I will share the bad knowing that the good will come.
I refuse to hide. Too many people hide. Too many people hide because they are scared of being told they are weak. But hiding only makes you feel weaker.
I fight to shine the light on the darkness that tries to take over me.
Right now…I am struggling to find the strength that I need to do what I believe is possible. I know I can be and do so much more in this world. I can’t settle for anything less than what I believe in, because settling is the same as hiding. But taking risks and putting myself out there is where I find my strength.
I want to be a motivational speaker. I want to spread a message of strength. I want to reach those kids who I once was. The kids whose minds are beginning to take over their souls with the lies that they aren’t good enough. The lies that make them think hiding is the only way to get through.
Being the passenger in that motorcycle accident was truly the best thing that could have ever happened to me. It woke me up and made me realize the strength I had within.
It made me realize everything I had been taking for granted; all of the things that I could have done as an able-bodied person, all of the experiences I could have had, the athletic gifts I had been given.
But from a very young age I never thought I was good enough, I never thought I could be good enough…despite the fact that I was only told good things from the people around me. 95% of the time I was voted MVP on the teams I was on. But nothing anyone said or did could change the way I was beating myself up inside my own mind.
And so I held back because I was scared of failing. I hid from my own success.
Which is why I thank the accident that left me paralyzed from the waist down.
Because of that accident, at 18 years old, I was given a second chance at life.
I was given the chance to have everything taken away from me…to have nothing but my heart and soul to navigate the world with. To dig deep. To figure it out.
I saw only two options; to die inside…or to fight with everything I had and find a happiness I had never known before.
So I fought.
And oh my gosh it was hard.
But I did it.
The first year after my accident I didn’t know there was anything I could do. I had never heard of adaptive sports. Instead, I watched everyone around me living in an able-bodied world and doing able-bodied things. But I kept my faith that if I didn’t give up I would find my way.
And I did.
One year later I was introduced to Wheelchair Basketball…and I never looked back.
This doesn’t mean that I didn’t have the same self-doubts, struggles, insecurities…I just didn’t let them keep me from doing the things I knew deep down I wanted to do.
The things I wanted to do, the things I knew I needed to do, I did. I may have cried before and after every practice, every interview, every tryout, every class. I may have stayed up all night with anxiety, with negative thoughts running through my mind. I may have had horrible nightmares every night for years on end. But I didn’t stop. I showed up. And over time…I gained strength, wisdom and a deeper understanding of just what we are capable of as human beings.
I also learned more about myself, about my battle with depression. I learned that it is okay. That my depression has nothing to do with the person I am. That my depression will most likely always be there, and that that is okay. I will take it on and I will use it to help others.
It is a long road to self-acceptance. For too long I thought that I could win the battle over depression. That I would come out on top, move forward and live a life so much easier than the one I was living.
I thought that if I could make it to the Paralympics that I would have overcome everything that has ever tried to hold me back. That I would be a whole new person.
But after Rio…I had to learn that I was still me…and that that is okay. In fact, it took all of that to understand who I am. I am strong. I am capable. And I don’t have to ever let anything hold me back from being the person that I am and from doing the things I know I am capable of doing.
I will continue to push myself. I will continue to have days where I cry, where I feel a deep, deep pain, a pain that many don’t, and may never, understand. But I will always use that immense pain to fuel my immense passion to always rise up stronger than I was before and to make a difference in this world.
Sometimes you just have to take a step back to see how far you have come.
If I gave up now I would miss out on something pretty amazing…I am confident of that ❤ I just have to go for it ❤