My name is Mikaela.
For much of my teenage years, and now into my twenties, I’ve struggled with depression and OCD. In my freshman year at Stanford — as a varsity scholarship athlete — I stumbled and plunged into a space that peaked with a suicide attempt and a psychiatric hold in 2017.
Navigating this journey has been arduous, especially as an athlete. All along, I’ve wanted to root my work and writing in helping other athletes experiencing similar life crosswalks. I thought about what allowed me to come to some of the conclusions I have: slowing down, and giving everything a chance to surface.
I’ve ventured into an internal dialogue with myself as I slowly return to playing basketball. It rests on my shoulders: if I can create space for myself, maybe I can for others.
I love the fluidity of metaphors, and one that comes to mind is light we can ascribe meaning to — candles. Candles represent so much: light peeking through seemingly steadfast darkness, dependable flickering even in the absence of a breeze, stillness, diffusion of energy, and aromas.
They’re a wonderful metaphor for mental health, honouring those we’ve lost, sitting with those who are presently in a dark place, and rest, which the athlete community struggles with.
If you’ve lost someone to suicide, struggled with mental health, or know someone who does — we need you. Buy a candle for a friend, teammate, coach, parent, colleague, or yourself.
“To show weakness, we’re told, in so many words, is to deserve shame. But I am here to show weakness. And I am not ashamed.”
— Mardy Fish
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