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In Her Shoes

by Rebecca Brooks 3 months ago in advice

An alt ed opinion on why Self Care is Worthy Care

In Her Shoes
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

A young lady, perhaps one of the world's greatest living athletes made the decision to step away from something she has trained her whole life for because she understood at the ripe old of age 24 something most never will.

She recognized she wasn't in the right headspace to compete and knowing that there would be backlash, knowing she might be ridiculed or talked poorly about, she chose her own well-being over the opinions of others and that my friends is incredibly brave.

I do not know her so I cannot speak for what specifically was going on nor will I try to guess. I can only speak from my own experiences and how they have even now, almost 30 years later continued to impact me.

I have dealt with hospitalizations, breakdowns, medication, and therapy, especially in the past few years. Even though I am in a great place at the moment, I don't take it for granted that I can still end up having more really awful, bad days.

I get up every morning and take the day for what it brings. If it is one of those bad ones, I remind myself that it will pass and that before long I can go to sleep and reset. It if is a good one I celebrate it and enjoy the moments it brings.

With all this being said, I have something, she does not. The luxury of having those "bad days" kept private unless I choose to share.

Can you imagine the pressure a young woman of 24 must have on her not only to perform but to be "perfect" at all times? To never admit that she isn't doing great. To never have the opportunity to say today I need "self-care."

Yes, I get it, the Olympics happens every 4 years. It's not a "daily" thing. Neither, however, is trauma. You can have days, weeks, months, even years of doing great, and then suddenly you're dealing with things all over again and having to wade through the muck of things.

The only thing any of us should be doing is supporting her decision to take care of herself the way any one of us would want if we needed the same.

My last "breakdown" was in November. Twice I spent multiple days in the hospital. Since then I've had weeks, even months where I've been on cloud 9 only to find myself the next day crying for no apparent reason, wanting to sleep for 13 hours, and feeling like I'm not worth the time.

It's the process of trauma. There is an ebb and flow to things. I remember telling someone once that just because I am better and feeling great doesn't mean that everything that happened to me was magically erased.

I live now with the understanding that while I am not a product of my past, my past has had an impact on me. I've been to places where a song or a smell or even a familiar street has taken me into flashback city and I've had to work really hard to get back to being ok.

I understand that just because I am doing the work doesn't mean the work stops because I'm no longer in a fragile and vulnerable place.

The difference now is that I have the tools in my toolbox that I did not before. I can recognize when I'm not ok, can work towards taking the steps to be kind to myself and good to myself so that I can be again.

I've read a little about her history and like me and millions of others in this country, she is a survivor. The difference is most survivors don't have a spotlight shining on them.

To say "I need to focus on myself," doesn't make her a "snowflake," and "Quitter," or a "loser" as many of the comments I have seen. It makes her someone who has more self-awareness than most to recognize that she needed to take care of herself and that folks, is a beautiful thing.

Mental Health is stigmatized. We are collectively indoctrinated to believe that to be vulnerable is weak. To admit that we are flawed is a failure.

Just because she is an elite athlete doesn't mean that she isn't human. It doesn't mean that she has steel instead of blood inside her veins.

It doesn't mean that she isn't allowed to recognize that she needs to take care of herself simply because the world is expecting her to do something else.

I can't imagine the pressure she was under. The push to perform at any cost. What good is winning a medal if it comes at a price that can't be repaid?

I would think that to perform at the level she does requires every ounce of her concentration and strength. If she was able to recognize that she wasn't 100% then what she did was a good thing.

Would it have been better for her to perform on the stage knowing she wasn't at her full focus and perhaps get injured in a life-altering way? Would all those people who are currently laughing at her or saying horrible things have stepped up to pay her medical expenses? Her therapy? Helped her back on her feet?

Do you see what I'm getting at?

It's so easy to judge.

But how can we?

Unless you live inside her head, unless you've lived inside mine or anyone else who has gone through things, how on Earth can you form an opinion that this person is deserving of your judgment when you can't possibly know what they are experiencing?

I have no idea what happened for her but I do know that what she deserves is empathy and applause for being able to stand up for herself and her needs when the majority of the people who are judging her, bashing her, and verbally abusing her won't do the same.

Self-awareness is NOT a bad thing.

Understanding what you need in the moment is NOT a bad thing.

Saying you are choosing to take care of your mental health is NOT a bad thing.

It shouldn't matter if you are an unknown like me or one of the world's greatest athletes. Knowing that you have to take care of yourself, that you are worthy and deserving of being able to say "sometimes I'm not ok," is a Universal thing.

So there ya have it for what it's worth. Some of you will agree, some will not, and that too is ok.

Not one of us is infallible to things that may impact our mental health and neither is she.

#mentalhealthawareness #mentalhealthmatters #selfcarematters #SimoneBiles #awareness


Rebecca Brooks

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