My Story as a Gymnast: Finding Mental Balance
By Alyssa Tejeda, Purple Hydrangea Project Marketing Director
I close my eyes, the tears running down my face that I tried so hard to fight. My back is pressed against the bathroom wall of my gymnasium, the door locked to make sure none of my teammates see me like this. I feel trapped, a weight pressing down on my chest crushing me. Why am I not good enough?
For a long time, this was a normal occurrence. I was stressed, anxious, and wildly overwhelmed, and had no way to cope with it. Work was piled on at school as I did my best to stay on top. More and more pressure was put on me in gymnastics. I put more on my plate than I should have. I just desperately wanted to be good enough when I thought that I wasn’t.
Unfortunately, I have found that this feeling is a more common occurrence than most people think. We’re constantly found comparing ourselves to others, judging ourselves too harshly, and expecting much more from ourselves than we should.
I learned what negative consequences stem from overwhelming myself and being so critical and self-deprecating the hard way. Having such a negative mindset all the time took such a toll on my mind, that it started showing physical effects on my body. I rarely ate because I lost my appetite, and ended up with a few other health problems that had to be remedied with medication. I could barely sleep since I had trouble turning my mind off, and I would constantly have panic attacks, as much as I tried to hide them.
I felt ashamed more than anything. I wondered why all of my peers could handle the stress and workload of our everyday lives when I simply couldn’t. I didn’t want to tell anyone about my struggles. I was scared my parents would be disappointed in me or that my friends would judge me. When they shared remarks of concern over how tired or on edge I seemed, I casually brushed it off like it was nothing to make sure no one suspected anything.
The road to recovery is one that is long and hard, but also one that is worth it. I finally came to realize the stress I was putting on my mind and body and reached out for help. I found that I am lucky enough to have a vast and strong support system in my family and friends that were there to help me through the tough times. I made a conscious effort to stay positive and look at the bright side of things. I found outlets to manage my stress, like journaling and meditation, and that staying organized is key to avoid overloading yourself. I accepted the fact that I am not perfect, and neither is anyone else.