Dealing with the inner gremlins first requires self recognition, though preferably before the problems get too big.
On firing up the computer this morning I noticed this tweet from Adrian Timmis
Every athlete should read this, male as well as female RT @Hollie_Avil: I’ve decided to end my career as a triathlete.. http://t.co/OpFpzCdf
Out of curiosity I took a look. Although Adrian’s tweets are always informative and interesting I had my suspicions it would be about training, coaching or worst still saddle positions. So I was even more pleasantly surprised to read Hollie Avil’s story of how the pursuit of her sporting dreams led to misery. As she says herself
Don’t get me wrong. I have had some amazing experiences in triathlon. I leave the sport as an Olympian, a double world champion, a national champion and also someone who was once ranked world No 1.
But those great times do not outweigh the miserable times. I don’t want to risk my health again, not just my mental health, but my physical health.
I want to be happy.
For me this article is important for three reasons. The first is that, again, it highlights the role that expectations – and especially the expectations of others – play in shaping who were are and what we become. The second is the feelings of isolation that are brought on by both the cause of the problems (in this case the expectations of coaches as well as the feelings of lack of control) and . But the third, and for me the most poignant, is the role that self admission plays in finding a way out. Whatever the problem, without owning up to it yourself there are few ways to let others in who can help, especially when the problems are often locked inside your own head. But with alarming familiarity Avil admits that her cry for help cam, if not too late then at a point which made dealing with it harder.
In February 2011, I finally made a cry for help, admitting everything to Joce[Brooks]and my parents. This time I was too far gone and we had to work so hard to get me better.
Admission is much more than half the battle. By the time you’ve reached that point the problems feel ten, maybe a hundred times worse and the way out seems so hard. It can feel like you’re being attacked from all sides. But in admitting to these problems yourself you open up a world of possibilities even if they don’t seem so clear at the time. I know, I’ve been there and some of you have been with me on all or part of the journey. So here are some words of encouragement:
I believe life has chapters and this is the end of one of mine.
Although I am sad to be hanging up the race shoes, I’m proud of what I’ve overcome.