by Morgan Wuenschel
I am not weak-minded. People have told me many times in many different ways that I am weak-minded because of stigmas. I’m not; I am the athlete that is known to put more pressure on myself than even my coaches. Coaches don’t have to tell me what I’ve done wrong, I’ve already said it out loud before they can tell me. I put constant pressure on myself that is hard to live up to. Little did I know that would make it hard to run at practice, go to classes, control my thoughts, and breathe.
I have always had anxiety like many people but I never realized that not everyone couldn’t breathe, control thoughts, or had other physical issues when their stress was set over the edge. Small things like forgetting to turn in an assignment on time, too many people in the dining hall, getting a covid test, etc. that most people don’t even care about, caused me to feel like I was dying and would never be able to control my thoughts ever again. People would always say just don’t stress, get over it, you have no reason to cry, etc. They just didn’t know I would if I could. It took five doctor’s appointments throughout my senior year of high school, to even say I had anxiety.
My life was a constant battle of trying to get through bad mental health periods that happen often. I succeeded until I slowly stopped succeeding. The thoughts that I was disappointing everyone around me and no one truly cared about me became constant and I couldn’t control it. I was slowly coming to the worst place my mental health had ever been and I didn’t tell anyone. I was having extreme panic attacks at least once a week if not more and my teammates didn’t know why I was crying at almost every practice and never finishing a workout. December of my sophomore year of college, I was diagnosed with general anxiety and panic disorder by a psychiatrist and prescribed medication because I was no longer able to function throughout the day. Most importantly I saw a therapist regularly and was recommended to take time away from track. I couldn’t see my life without the sport I loved, so I did not take the last recommendation.
I wish I could say it was easy and I was instantly “fixed” by the meds, that I ran the best season of my life. It wasn’t simple or linear, it was hard work but I made it through because of my amazing support system and I finally learned that the brain is just a part of the body. My mental illness is just like my shin splints, which I can’t control, I need to rest, and I need to take care of. I am running my first season back from physical and MENTAL injuries and I am succeeding. I will always have anxiety and occasional breakthrough panic attacks but I will never be weak-minded.
No athlete is weak-minded. No person with mental illness is weak-minded. No one has the right to say a person is weak-minded. Break the stigma.