Last weekend, suicide claimed the life of a 25-year-old, former NFL player. I did not know him personally, but it remains a tragedy because a life was lost. Often when this happens, many questions may be asked but are never answered.
What was going on in his head? Was he sick? It couldn’t have been that bad…could it?
I am not sure of all the details of his career and life outside of the game but reading this story made me think of some of my own experiences with sports and my mental health.
Recently, I suffered an injury that required me to have surgery on my right knee and forced me to “sit down”. For people who know me, the hardest thing for me to do is sit still. But with a surgically repaired knee, I didn’t have much of a choice.
I have had plenty of injuries and a number of surgeries. As always, physical pain was not the hardest part to handle, it is the mental struggle that is overwhelming.
When the injury occurred, I knew exactly what happened and how long it would take to recover. As I attempted to wrap my mind around this ill-timed incident, I also had to deal with comments of “you should just leave sports alone”, “you are always getting hurt”, “why do you keep doing this to yourself?”.
It was like I was getting blamed for being active and doing something that I loved to do. I enjoy playing sports. I enjoy the competition. I enjoy the camaraderie of teammates. I genuinely love all aspects of sports. It serves as a stress reliever. It is a way for me to cope with this thing we call life, and now I have an injury that disrupts that. It is constant reminder of failure to remain healthy to do something that I love to do.
I do not want to hear “you need to stop because you keep getting hurt”.
A lifestyle change is not something that is easy to accept and actually do. For me, the injuries that I have suffered were not worth giving up something that I have done all of my life and I’m not even paid to do this. So I can only imagine the mental anguish an athlete experiences when they are told that they can no longer play on a level where they are compensated for their life-long dedication.
How would you feel if you dedicated your life to making good grades in school, earn your degree, and cannot find a job in your desired field? Many adults, young and old, are faced with this issue daily.
As we spend time and energy to things in our life; a career, hobby, or even a relationship…we dedicate a piece of ourselves. And if that thing is gone (whether by choice or not) a part of you leaves with it. This is not always easy to cope with but we must realize that we have the ability to continue on and work towards new goals although it may take some time to figure them out.
So, as I reflect on the story about Adrian Robinson, I think about his resilient efforts to pursue his dream. Again, I saw I did not know him personally but I can relate to mental beating it takes to pursue something that you love doing and you are faced with roadblocks on your journey.
What are some things or people who help you when you do not reach a goal that you have set for yourself?
How do you cope with not being able to do the things that you love to do anymore when it is out of your control?