Never Admit

Never Admit

by Claire Helmers

--Trigger Warning - Suicide Discussion --

I’ve dealt with mental health issues my entire life. But up until October of 2023, I was still struggling to figure out what had happened and the things that I had experienced that previous spring. 

In September of 2022, I remember feeling a little different and not in a way that was alarming, but enough in which I noticed something. I am a competitive runner but there were times where I wanted to quit the team or not run anymore. I just wanted to feel like a regular teenager and lay in bed all day—even more than I did. As time went on, these feelings kept increasing, and my mood and energy levels began decreasing. I started to feel like I was in a hole by myself. During this time and until July of 2023, I was in a relationship that affected me more than I realized and it increased my anxiety, which then triggered my depression. 

January of 2023, I was at the point where running was no longer fun and I wanted to quit, which surprised everyone and was a big red flag that something was wrong. After debating back and forth in my head, I knew I loved the sport and decided I had goals I wanted to achieve. I told my coach that I needed to find the passion, drive, and love I once had for the sport and do a bunch of easy runs. 

At this point, even though I had finally come to my senses, it felt like I had zero control over my body and that the medication, which I had been taking since 2012, was no longer working. This was tough because it was the beginning of track season and I hadn't really been training, my medicine was not working and I was in a place of deep depression in which I was having suicidal thoughts. I would cry myself to sleep every night from December 2022 to the end of July 2023. 

When track started up, I had no confidence and I didn’t feel like I could compete and be happy with myself and so I told my coaches I wasn't going to compete. From then, we made plans to start getting 1% better everyday... but then spring break came and it got bad again. Right before we left for the break and I had a meltdown. During it, my mom asked me if I needed to go somewhere to get some help; basically asking if she needed to take me to the psych ward. I said no, but it still wasn't getting better. 

Luckily, I started with a new therapist after that and, to this day, I still see them once a week. In person therapy has been the biggest game changer. After switching therapists and finding one that has helped me, it was my biggest life saver. This therapist really helped when it came to my feelings and struggles. 

As the Drake and State's races approached, I was on edge and anxious because I was only running three races at Drake and 4x8 at State. During my Drake race, I felt like me again, which was the first time in a while. I could see that progress was being made. I got on a new medication that was working. In July, I ended an almost two year old relationship. At the time I was heartbroken, but when I look back, it made me feel stronger and gave me the ability to know I was going to be ok. 

Slowly but surely I am getting better each day. This previous March, I had hip surgery and honestly my mental health has been better than it was last year. Over this recovery process, I realized how much being an advocate for mental health in teens and students—but especially in athletes—has become something that I love doing, along with cheering on my teammates.

I chose to share my story with ADAA because, even though I have shared this with close friends and family, I knew that deep down maybe my story and what I have gone through can help someone else in their own journey. 

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