Photo © David Oliver

It’s been a while. My apologies. While writing this is extremely cathartic, it is also extremely emotionally taxing.

I have had a lot of people reach out and for that I’m grateful. I probably didn’t respond to everyone. I appreciate it so much, but I don’t always have words for my feelings and can get overwhelmed pretty easily.

Many people who are struggling with their own similar feelings having been reaching out with questions. Before I keep drudging through my personal story and personal feelings, I need to say what I think is the fundamental error in the way I was approaching derby.

Being in a sport cannot be your only way of managing your mental health.

A lot of us tend to treat it that way, but it will not solve your problems. It can help, but it can also add to your feelings down the road. For a long time I considered going to practice as a means of escape. Here’s the thing though, roller derby is a SPORT. Your team needs you there and they would probably prefer you focused. Roller derby was not a replacement for actual therapy and medication for me, as much as I wanted it to be.

Your friends also shouldn’t be your only means of managing mental health. They can certainly help! One of my best friends is a social worker and she definitely uses counseling techniques when I come to her with my anxieties, but it still isn’t the solution for me.

Roller derby is a great supplement in managing mental health, but it is in no way the answer.

If you have diabetes, diet and exercise is incredibly important. Here’s the thing, so is insulin.

This sport probably WON’T save you, at least not forever and that’s OKAY.

Therapy and medication aren’t always the answer either. It wasn’t the complete answer for me.
I was still really unhappy at practice even with those life changes. There are other options to explore as well: time spent on other hobbies, changes in your diet or habits, and non-competitive sporting or time at the gym (endorphins!).

My PERSONAL solution has involved a great mixture of things, and even today everything is not 100% perfect. I do have a lot more perspective. My process won’t work for everyone, or even the great majority of skaters who may feel similarly. I am sorry about that, but please know you are not alone.

Some resources:
Psychology Today (a great way to explore therapists and psychiatrists)
Depression in Elite Sport
Depression in Athletes
Roller derby did not save my soul
I Got Here, Now What? Practical Tools for Managing Mental Health and Derby, Part I: Getting There

Categories: mental game