Gold Medal in Self-Care and Prioritizing Mental Health
Some time ago, Simone spoke out about ADHD and became a positive example to those of us parenting children with the same. She inspired many kids, including my own to achieve and grow and embrace. I couldn’t be more proud of Simone than I am today. To see a hard working, well-respected, well known individual show strength in knowing her limits, owning her issue, and taking care of her mental health. Once again, you are a shining star unafraid to do the tough stuff!! You are courageous, bold, and gold in my book! My heart breaks that you couldn’t see the end result you have imagined through all the hard work, however, please don’t underestimate your profound impact and influence. Hugs to Simone!
I must say, "I am proud of Simone." I commend someone in her position who is obviously a hard-working, respected, and competitive athlete, healthy and well-known individual, in a very public forum choose to understand her limits and respect her mental health. And could it be, that this well-respected Olympic athlete could breathe life into the realization that mental health issues truly are real and know no bounds. Whether we choose to call it stress (because it may seem more socially acceptable and less uncomfortable), mental health issue (because it offers a slight bit of protective cover from judgement for a specific issue), or full-blown anxiety (which few are likely to admit nor feel comfortable to discuss) are very real. AND even Olympic athletes whom we know to be among the toughest of individuals, training themselves physically, emotionally, and mentally for their goal of the grandest of competitions, experience it too.
Can I encourage you to open your eyes and try to understand the social stigma surrounding this? Sure, there are athletes that are not mentally tough and choose the easy way out. But, remember, this athlete did not get this far by being one to disregard her responsibility or not take it serious. Please don't miss the opportunity to realize that what this truly speaks to is the power of such mental health issues...they are real and they can be debilitating! They can put one in harm's way in many ways. One might more easily accept the idea that an athlete took herself out of the competition than to realize that anxiety or stress took her out of the competition.
Athletes who have quit their teams or lack follow through do exist (and we see that a lot now days), but we can't allow them to make the true struggle that mentally tough and responsible individuals face less legitimate. Let's instead realize the true power of mental health at ALL levels. If anything, this goes to prove that NO ONE is exempt from the struggle, even those whom we would consider mentally, physically, and emotionally tough and strong.
This opened the door to some good conversations in our home, especially with our little guy who struggles with anxiety (He doesn’t even like us to use the word and chooses to use stress). For the first time, he was hearing about it on TV, and at the highest, and most esteemed level of competition. And this was an athlete that so many people know and love! Let’s not waste these opportunities to spread awareness and grow our children up with a new idea of mental health and no shame in the experience of such challenge.
Could it be that this finally opens the door to diminish some stigma and help educate society to understand that mental health issues, stress, anxiety, depression, and many other issues are part of life for many people. And the faces of these issues don't always give it away. Simone was able to smile, stand, compete, be present and cheer on her team. But that doesn't make her struggle any less real! My heart breaks for her to have put in the work to get to her crowning moment of competition and have the struggle keep her from seeing the end result she and so many others wanted for her. Let’s not for one minute let her feel shame for an issue just as real as cancer, diabetes, or blood pressure. Her mental health matters, and trust me…it had to feel and BE very real for her to make such a decision at crunch time. Here’s to hoping that this mentally tough athlete can hold her head high and know and feel her country support her mental health. She may have more impact by speaking out than by wearing a gold around her neck but being consumed by the struggle (or getting seriously injured in the process). In my book, she is courageous, bold, and gold! Hugs to you Simone for being a shining example to me, my kids, and the whole country!
How has the Simone Biles situation stirred communication or even awareness in your home or circle of friends? How can her story inspire and encourage you and/or your child? Please comment below!
Feel free to connect with Jami at ParentingWithPersonality.com if you need some support, practical tools, and encouragement in your journey!