Editors Note: This column was submitted anonymously by a Ferris State student athlete. It is being published to spotlight a unique perspective on an issue that can affect anybody.
The thing I remember most is my bed. It was the place I spent most of my time.
One day, I remember my alarm going off and just staring at the wall. I could hear it ringing over and over but I couldn’t bring myself to turn it off. Just moving my arm a couple of inches out of my bed seemed like this monstrous task that I was incapable of doing.
I am an honors student that had never skipped class a day in my college career. I didn’t attend class that day.
I stayed in bed. I was a prisoner to my own mind. I was shackled to thoughts that I wasn’t good enough, or I was a burden to everyone I loved. I was so unbelievably sad, but somehow numb at the same time.
I was mad at myself for laying in bed all day as my life went on without me. I genuinely thought I would never feel happiness again and even found myself googling the effects of suicide on family members. It felt like I had fallen into the darkest and coldest hole imaginable.
This was one of my worst days.
This is just a snippet of what depression feels like. Depression is a major health concern in the United States affecting every type of person and athletes are no exception.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), about 18 percent of adults had a major depressive episode last year. More alarmingly, according to a study conducted by the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the number is even higher for college athletes at about 23 percent.
“The CES-D [Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale] identified clinically relevant levels of depressive symptoms in nearly one-quarter of college student athletes in this large cross-sectional sample,” the study read.
In addition to this, female collegiate athletes are even more at risk than their male counterparts.
“There was a significant gender difference in prevalence of depressive symptoms with female athletes exhibiting 1.844 times the risk of male athletes for endorsing clinically relevant symptoms,” the study continued. “Female college athletes reported significantly more depressive symptoms than males.”
Similar to the general population, things such as stress, grief or sadness can all contribute to a person and their depression. Athletes, however, have all of this and then some.
According to psychologist Bill Johnson II in an article for the Huffington Post September 23, 2015, there are many other influences that college athletes deal with daily that can add to their depression.
“I believe, the intense pressure athletes face to ‘win’ can add significant psychological stress,” Johnson said. “Also, the unique professional hazard of routine exposure to injuries, rehabilitation from injuries obtained or forced cessation from athletics due to injuries sustained can all be viewed as risk factors for experiencing emotional debilitation.”
No matter the cause, its effects are unbearable.
“When I was depressed, I felt nothing. I had no motivation to do anything. I barely got out of bed and I needed to because I had class and practice to go to. It was my worst semester of school of my life,” a former college athlete that decided to remain anonymous said. “Depression is real and it consumes people’s lives in a negative way.”
Simply being there for someone without judgment can do wonders for someone who is battling depression
It is OK to not be OK. Asking for help doesn’t make you weak, it makes you strong. There is a way out of the hole you feel stuck in, and often times you need a helping hand to pull you out.
If you or someone you know is suffering from depression, call the Personal Counseling Center at (231) 591-5968.
If it is an emergency, call the National Suicide Hotline at 1 (800) 784-2433 or 911.