When I look back on when I was dealing with depression and anxiety, it feels like I was putting together a puzzle. Slowly at first, because until recently, I didn't understand exactly what I was working on.
Growing up in California, my sisters and I loved basketball. Bonnie and Karlie went on to play at Stanford, but I took a different route: to the opposite coast and UConn. Other Californians had succeeded there, such as Diana Taurasi, Charde Houston and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, and had set the bar high. I was up for the challenge.
Sure, we had to adjust to the cold of New England and the heat of high expectations. But it was a great place for me: I loved my teammates, coaches and fans. We made four trips to the Final Four, and I left with a national championship. I surprised a lot of people when I was picked No. 4 by the Chicago Sky in the 2019 WNBA draft. Everything seemed pretty great. That's what I told myself.
I always used to make excuses about why I felt a certain way. I'm hard on myself and became accustomed to a lot of negative self-talk. I used to tear myself down in ways that I didn't realize I was doing. I was in denial about how I felt. Something in the back of my head convinced me that I was being dramatic and that nothing was actually wrong. I wanted to be seen as reliable, tough and resilient, so I kept it all to myself.
Our coaches at UConn were really good at recognizing things and seeing what was going on. I had moments after games where I needed to break down and cry; sometimes you need to release energy. I remember being in the locker room after a game, crying and upset. The coaches talked to me, asking me what I needed. I said something along the lines of, "Look, I just want to play the next game and I'll be fine." And I ended up playing one of my best games. So for the moment, it was solved.
I was really effective at hiding it; my friends and my family, they had no idea. I kept a lot of everything to myself. That's one of my issues, too: I didn't want anyone to feel I was burdening them or making excuses.
Like many athletes, I had to deal with injuries. I broke my foot in the national semifinals my freshman year in 2016, and then didn't get to play in the NCAA final. Early in my junior year, I injured my ankle, which turned out to be more severe than I thought. I played through it, but needed surgery as soon as the season was over. I spent that summer rehabbing, but made it back for my senior season.
Basketball was always an escape for me: somewhere I could go and not worry about what else was going on. But I pushed myself so hard in basketball, I struggled to find an outlet: something else I enjoyed doing and was passionate about. At times I felt very isolated in the sense that I didn't have anything else I really felt inspired to do -- or connected to -- off the court. It's especially hard as an athlete to be injured when your identity is wrapped up in basketball and you're still figuring the rest out.
Everything is connected in one way or another. Looking back now, I wasn't taking care of myself as well as I should have. I wasn't eating right. I had times where I was sleeping for 13-15 hours a day. I'd get up to go to practice and class, then come back to my room, and that's about it.
But I was always able to get done what I needed to. For me, that was part of being in denial for so long. I thought about things that I have, my privilege and the opportunity I have that other people don't. I thought: What right do I have to feel bad? I knew I felt drained and down, but insisted to myself it wasn't a big deal. It couldn't be.
In college, I thought, "Well, in my next journey I'll be in a better place emotionally. I'll be in control." Then starting my pro career, it was, "I feel like this because I'm not playing much, and that's got to be the reason." Then you play a little bit more, but that doesn't help, either. I was constantly in search of a reason why, but I've learned that sometimes there just isn't a specific reason. It's something that builds up until you can't hold it in anymore.
Last year, I realized I needed to ask for help. It wasn't one moment. I just felt so overwhelmed by any slightest inconvenience. Something small would go wrong, and I didn't know if I was going to break down crying or get very angry. I felt like I had no more control over my emotions. Finally, I reached out to my agent and figured out a plan.
I was able to speak to a mental health professional, someone who had more knowledge than I did. When I started talking about things that I didn't think made sense, it made perfect sense to them. And I felt this weight lifted from me.
These aren't easy times for anyone now, with the coronavirus pandemic and how that's affected all of our lives. I was traded to the Dallas Wings for my second season in the WNBA, but I don't know when that may start. I'm with my sister Karlie, who's also on the Wings roster, here in California working out and trying to be ready for whatever happens. I'm thankful to have my family. There is a lot of uncertainty for everyone.
But like I said, I had been searching for other things to develop a passion for besides basketball. I'm getting into photography, and reading more. I'm putting less pressure on myself to have it all figured out or be great at everything and trying to be in the moment. And I want to be part of spreading awareness about mental health, too. It's a topic that I just recently felt comfortable talking about out loud; it's been a long journey to get there. The pandemic and knowing how challenging that can be for so many who are either publicly, or maybe privately managing through mental health challenges actually played a big part in my summoning the courage to share.
One of the biggest things is you finally understand that it's OK to not be OK, to have sad days, to feel down on yourself. What you choose to do with that is the most important part.
I had the opportunity through Puma to get involved with their support of The Trevor Project, a crisis intervention and suicide prevention organization for LGBTQ youth. As an ally of the LGBTQ community and someone on my own mental health awareness journey, I'll proudly wear Puma's new Sky Modern shoe that benefits The Trevor Project. I can use my platform as an athlete to drive conversation and it's something I feel so lucky to be supported in doing by the WNBA. Players come into the league and feel empowered to talk about who they are and what they believe in because we've seen players before us do it. So many of our women, particularly women of color, are leaders and activists and we all take a lot of pride in that leadership.
If you'd asked me in high school, I wouldn't have been able to tell you much about mental health. In college, even though I had a lot of resources and was surrounded by caring people, I hid what I was feeling. I wasn't ready to talk about it, so I wasn't able to ask for or receive help.
Now, I want to be able to tell others, especially younger kids in sports, that it's OK to talk to someone. It doesn't have to be a professional right off the bat. It just needs to be someone you are comfortable around and can trust. Then together you can start to figure out the next steps.
Please know that you don't have to hold it all in. You're not alone. There is nothing to be ashamed of. There are resources online and people who can help, through places like The Trevor Project. Organizations like them are vital, especially during times like this.
It's important to get this message out. Anyone can be looking great and be the light in the room, but we don't know what's really behind the scenes.
There is no hiding from mental health issues based on what you have, or how successful you are, or what people see of you on the outside. Anyone can be affected, so learn what you can and ask for help when you need it. Everyone's journeys are different, but more than ever we see how we're all interconnected. So let's be kind to ourselves and look out for each other.
Here is the original post:
Katie Lou Samuelson on mental health journey -- 'I realized I needed to ask for help' - ESPN
- How is mental health manifesting itself in the insurance world? - Insurance Business - June 22nd, 2020
- Native American groups address mental and behavioral health as COVID-19 wears on - Salt Lake Tribune - June 22nd, 2020
- Will digital mental health solutions thrive after Covid-19? - Medical Device Network - June 22nd, 2020
- ATAI dives into digital therapeutics to boost mental health care - FierceBiotech - June 22nd, 2020
- While Some Experts Brace For Tsunami Of Mental Health Issues, Others Predict Crisis Will Be Short-Lived - Kaiser Health News - June 22nd, 2020
- An inside look at Stanford's one-of-a-kind course on mental health innovation, where students mingle with industry experts and develop business plans... - June 22nd, 2020
- Defund police? Some cities have already started, investing in mental health instead - USA TODAY - June 22nd, 2020
- Discussion: You Don't Have To Go Far To Improve Mental Health - WCCO | CBS Minnesota - June 22nd, 2020
- Post-traumatic growth will happen in some after Covid-19 ends - STAT - STAT - June 22nd, 2020
- UPDATE: Police reopen east Bloomington area after addressing 'mental health crisis situation' - Bloomington Pantagraph - June 22nd, 2020
- Mental Health and Sleep Behaviors Are Affected by Diabetic Neuropathic Pain - Endocrinology Advisor - June 22nd, 2020
- 'You are not alone': The pandemic is causing increased anxiety. Here's how to get help - Desert Sun - June 22nd, 2020
- Usher's New Look and Cricket Wireless to Host Virtual Youth Mental Health Summit Addressing the Effects of COVID-19, Systemic Racism and Social... - June 22nd, 2020
- Mental Health Court receives funding for second year - The Owensboro Times - June 22nd, 2020
- Mental health conditions are not a normal part of aging: Dr. Brad Lucas - cleveland.com - June 22nd, 2020
- 'A culmination of crises': America is in turmoil, and a mental health crisis looms next - USA TODAY - June 22nd, 2020
- Covid-19 affects BAME youth mental health more than white peers study - The Guardian - June 22nd, 2020
- UW study looks at the long-term mental health toll of lockdowns - MyNorthwest.com - June 22nd, 2020
- The mental health victims of the pandemic the role of intervention - National Health Executive - June 22nd, 2020
- FCF|REACT Capacity Building on Adult and Child Mental Health - ReliefWeb - June 22nd, 2020
- Three Corners Health hopes to bridge the gap through online mental health forum - Williams Lake Tribune - June 22nd, 2020
- Larimer County, Fort Collins spar over location of behavioral health facility - Coloradoan - June 22nd, 2020
- Pandemic takes a toll on mental health of US residents, new national survey shows - News@Northeastern - June 22nd, 2020
- In the name of #MentalHealth - Mumbai Mirror - June 22nd, 2020
- Uthappa bares it all to raise awareness on mental health and suicide prevention - The New Indian Express - June 22nd, 2020
- Woman Behind Bars With Severe Mental Illness Gets Moved From County Jail - levittownnow.com - June 22nd, 2020
- As activists call to defund the police, mental-health advocates say the time is now to rethink public safety - MarketWatch - June 22nd, 2020
- WRITE TEAM: COVID-19 and mental health/addiction impact - MyWebTimes.com - May 26th, 2020
- Food Service Workers Are on the Brink of a Mental Health Crisis. These Efforts are Helping. - Civil Eats - May 26th, 2020
- 'We are all going through this:' Albany County mental health hotline helping hundreds - Albany Times Union - May 26th, 2020
- Here2Help Mental Health Coalition Library Forum: How to Recognize and Support People in Emotional Distress - TAPinto.net - May 26th, 2020
- VIDEO: YouTuber shows what it's like to have anxiety and panic attacks - Insider - INSIDER - May 26th, 2020
- Mental health and social isolation: how do have an active participation in self-care? - The European Sting - May 26th, 2020
- Cahill calls for mental health unit to be restored, expanded in Kingston - The Daily Freeman - May 26th, 2020
- Copper Ball virtual auction to benefit northern Arizona behavioral health - Arizona Daily Sun - May 26th, 2020
- Online therapy having its moment, bringing insights on how to expand mental health services going forward - The Conversation US - May 26th, 2020
- 'Like an earthquake with many aftershocks,' Coping with mental health and substance abuse issues during pandemic - Monadnock Ledger Transcript - May 26th, 2020
- Mental health apps draw wave of new users as experts call for more oversight - CNBC - May 26th, 2020
- Free Therapy and Mental Health Services You Can Access During the Coronavirus Outbreak - MSN Money - May 26th, 2020
- Mental health: How to care for yourself during the pandemic - CNN - May 26th, 2020
- Covid 19: This form of yoga can improve mental health, suggests study - The Indian Express - May 26th, 2020
- We Need to Take Action to Address the Mental Health Crisis in This Pandemic - TIME - May 26th, 2020
- 3 signs that your coworker may be struggling with mental health issues - Fast Company - May 26th, 2020
- Singapore-based Intellect wants to lower barriers to mental health support in Asia - TechCrunch - May 16th, 2020
- Take care of your mind: mental health at JMU - The Breeze - May 16th, 2020
- The government will spend $48 million to safeguard mental health. Extending JobKeeper would safeguard it even more - The Conversation AU - May 16th, 2020
- Mental health expert panel discusses how to best deal with differing opinions on COVID-19 - WSAW - May 16th, 2020
- Greater Olean Area Mental Health Professionals Talk About How They Cope With the Pandemic - TAPinto.net - May 16th, 2020
- Letter to the Editor | Mental health requires more attention - Daily Illini - May 16th, 2020
- Mental health therapist concerned about telehealth reimbursements after emergency proclamation ends - KCRG - May 16th, 2020
- Coping Through COVID: The Importance of Mental Health - Patch.com - May 16th, 2020
- Suicide Prevention Aims To Get Ahead Of Pandemic's Added Pressures : Shots - Health News - NPR - May 16th, 2020
- Virtual mental health help for nurses at the front line of COVID-19 pandemic - Wink News - May 16th, 2020
- Experts worry about effects of coronavirus pandemic on those with mental health issues - CBS News - May 16th, 2020
- In China, covid-19 has focused attention on mental health - The Economist - May 16th, 2020
- Deaths and hunger strikes point to mental health crisis on stranded cruise ships - The Guardian - May 16th, 2020
- Im a survival psychologist, and this how weeks of social isolation is affecting your mental health - Well+Good - May 16th, 2020
- No Stigma Nevada: Its the worst time to skimp on mental-health resources - Elko Daily Free Press - May 12th, 2020
- Texas mental health counselors see influx of patients during coronavirus - The Texas Tribune - May 12th, 2020
- COVID-19 and your mental health | Health - Payson Roundup - May 12th, 2020
- Mental health in the workplace: The final frontier - Daily Herald - May 12th, 2020
- With a rapid shift to telehealth, Washburn Center is providing mental health services to children and families - MinnPost - May 12th, 2020
- 10 ways to boost mental health when working from home - World Economic Forum - May 12th, 2020
- As COVID-19 takes a toll on mental health, experts urge connection - Longview Daily News - May 12th, 2020
- Study Finds Pediatric ED Visits for Mental Health On the Rise - EMSWorld - May 12th, 2020
- Opinion: Mental health heroes are here to help during stressful times - Coloradoan - May 12th, 2020
- They just want someone to talk to: This mental health hotline is helping Texans navigate the pandemic - Gainesville Daily Register - May 12th, 2020
- Is It Time to Reevaluate Onstage Portrayals of Mental Illness? - Dance Magazine - May 12th, 2020
- Exclusive: Understanding the Impact of Climate Change on Mental Health - ICD10monitor - May 12th, 2020
- National Council for Behavioral Health Obtains 2.3 Million Face Masks for Mental Health and Addiction Providers at Risk of Exposure to Coronavirus -... - May 12th, 2020
- Local Counselor speaks: Mental Health and bouncing back from the Coronavirus - The Oxford Eagle - Oxford Eagle - May 12th, 2020
- Mike & Sherry Project Launches to Make Mental Health Support Accessible and Affordable for Restaurant and Bar Employees in Austin - Business Wire - May 12th, 2020
- COVID-19 having an impact on mental health | Coronavirus - East Oregonian - May 12th, 2020
- Northeast Business Group on Health and One Mind PsyberGuide Release Employer Guide to Mental Health Digital Tools and Solutions - GlobeNewswire - May 12th, 2020
- COVID-19 isolation threatening mental health of rural youth - National Observer - May 12th, 2020
- Peninsula Behavioral Health $2M grant to fund six positions - Peninsula Daily News - May 12th, 2020
- What COVID-19 Is Doing to Our Mental Health - Healthline - May 12th, 2020
- How Covid-19 is impacting the mental health of millennial moms - CNBC - May 12th, 2020
- Ashamed over my mental illness, I realized drawing might help me and others cope - The Wilton Bulletin - May 12th, 2020
- Bingeing That New TV Show Is Good for Your Mental Health - EcoWatch - May 12th, 2020