Today’s post is inspired by an article I read in the Star regarding Demar DeRozan’s and the conversation I had with a family member after it. I am a huge Raptor fan, since 1995 (yes, I’m aging me), and DeRozan is one of my favourite players. Not only because he is a fantastic offensive player, but he presents himself with such calm, poise, and professionalism which I greatly admire in an athlete. I was surprised to hear that he suffered from depression, as noted in a self proclaimed tweet during the all-star game (yes, it was a verbatim song lyric but the article that ensued explained more). I don’t know him personally, and was suprised by and proud of his admission.
Cut to this morning retelling and paraphrasing the article to a family member. Mind you they are incredibly supportive and understanding, just not of mental health being an actual medical condition. We had a discussion, close to disagreement, of how athletes should just “shut up and play” and there was no reason for him to disclose his mental state, as he was “looking for attention”.
This is a conversation we have had before and recently. It was during the olympics. I like to watch the back stories, the trials and tribulations, and being emotionally invested in the athlete. They can’t stand it. They turn it off and say that they are just trying to gain sympathy. See the pattern? Their excuse is that they come from an “old world” point of view when “men were men” and didn’t express their feelings. They were stronger back then. Or more suppressed in my opinion. My theory is that this person just doesn’t like being uncomfortable and that emotions make them uncomfortable so they scoff at people expressing emotions instead as a defense mechanism. Or may be it’s a “superhero effect” where there is this idolized opinion of athletes being superhuman and indispensable and any crack in that illusion would cause a crack in the perception of idolizer. Goes hand in hand with the previous – if the strong superhuman athlete shows emotions or any vulnerability then the illusion of being emotionless becomes challenged and then the person has to face emotions.
Back to the kitchen table and coffee convo. This month has been one of self discovery, restoration, self care and really pure and utter compassion (see the compassion challenge, which has been a game changer for me). Rather than react with retaliation to these infuriating statements, I decided to sit in uncomfortablility myself and put on my compassion goggles. This was their opinion for a reason. It’s hard for us to be logical or unbiased when there is emotion attached to our opinion. Any challenge of that opinion challenges reality. That may be this person’s opinion because that is what they had experienced. When someone acts so strongly against something, it’s because they don’t want to address the reasoning behind it and no logic, regardless of how many studies and books you throw, literally, at them, will change or sway them. It’s better to understand than understate. Also, yes people can use mental health statements (like “I’m depressed” or “no one likes me”) to gain sympathy. But that’s part of the mental health disorder! If someone is happy, healthy and content, they don’t look for sympathy to “feel better”. Looking for sympathy can be part of people’s not so coping mechanisms (which attracts enablers that just feed this disordered delusion and disable the person from taking responsibility for their own health).
So in conclusion, on article and one conversation with my family member gave me a lot of insight into compassion and mental health. It’s healthy for people (even athletes!) to express their emotions and communicate with others – that’s what makes them human. It’s also ok to feel uncomfortable with emotion or situations. Rather than run from it, ask yourself why it is you are uncomfortable and perhaps you will learn some lessons toward your own health and growth. And lastly mental health is real, it’s intertwined into physical health, and it’s a lot more complicated than a simple tweet. Notice how 1 tweet can elicit multiple different insights and opinions? It’s the same with 1 action interpreted by multiple different minds. They create thoughts and feelings unrelated to the actual action because it’s been twisted by their delusioned reality. That is a very true fact in relation to mental health disorders. You may not understand it but you don’t need to in order to be compassionate to those that experience it.
Hope everyone had a healthy happy Februaruy and thanks for reading 🙂