So, when i was at the training center and developed my anxiety two people really reached out and their stories touched me deep down to my soul. One story and woman inparticular helped me through a lot and because of her i realized this wasnt the end of the world and i can still be successful while dealing with something as annoying as anxiety and panic attacks. I wanted to share her story with y’all and hopefully those of you that also have to deal with some of these feelings it will help you as much as it’s helped me. She’s a truely amazing, successful woman.
“Anxiety is something I struggled with on and off the platform when I
was an athlete. It made itself present in my life when my sister tragically
passed away in 2001. People who have not experienced anxiety
or recognize/understand the signs of it look at those who do experience
anxiety we’re crazy. I even had someone say to me, “Just get
over it.” If only it were that easy, it takes time and patience.
My teammates were aware that my sister had passed away,
but none of them know the extent of what I was going through.
My Coach and Sport Psychologist were the only two that
really knew what was going on. I didn’t even let my parents know
because they too were dealing with the tragedy and I didn’t want
to give them anything else to worry about. I know many of
my teammates looked at me as a slacker for missing workouts
and being sick often. What they didn’t know was the real reason
I was not at training was because the night before I had a
massive anxiety attack coming to the near point of passing out,
or that I was having side effects from the medications I was
prescribed to help manage the anxiety so I could function
normally without my heart racing a million miles a minute or
having the sensation of jumping out of my skin. Anxiety
medications take time for your body to adjust to, but can
often leave you feeling foggy, sick, nauseous…all feelings that
would not be optimal to go and lift 100’s of pounds over your head.
Over the course of the next few years I learned how to manage my
anxiety when I felt the spike of adrenaline shoot through my body.
I no longer needed medication and could manage these feelings
through exercises I learned from the sport psychologist.
As my lifting career began to take off competing at the elite
level as a Junior & Senior athlete, setting American Records
and making USAW’s “Super Squad” anxiety popped up
once again in my life, but in a different form, performance
anxiety. Many athletes, elite or not, face this. If they say
they don’t, I think they’re lying. My performance
anxiety stemmed from the fear of failure, and fear of
success. It sounds crazy I know, but it was something
that I struggled with until the very end of my career. With
performance anxiety my heart would still beat fast,
my breath would become short, and in the midst of it
I was to go out and attempt lifting heavy weights and
set personal records, make teams, get team points, etc.
Talk about challenging! Through the support of my coach,
and working with a sport psychologist I was able to
again manage these emotions I was experiencing on
the platform. I knew in order to achieve my dream
of being an Olympian I needed to not let anxiety stand
in my way. I will be honest though, I was nervous
and a bit anxious at the last two competitions I
competed in, the Olympic Trials & the Olympic Games.
In speaking with other athletes though, this is
completely normal. These two events are
really the pinnacle of sport, a bit of anxiety and
a case of the nerves is normal.
Through sharing my own personal experience
with anxiety I hope that athletes see (1) they
are not alone and not crazy, (2) do not let
anxiety stand in the way of achieving your
dreams both on and off the platform and (3) there
are plenty of resources to utilize to overcome anxiety.”
see? you can still make your dreams come true.
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