• No one should be alone in this. We can help.
If you - or someone you know - are having thoughts about suicide, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Calls are connected to a certified crisis center nearest the caller's location. Services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.                                                                            If you - or someone you know - are having thoughts about suicide, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Calls are connected to a certified crisis center nearest the caller's location. Services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Advertisement

Main Menu
Sponsored Links
Donate to DF
Latest Forum Topics
No posts were found
Search

Find a Therapist
Powered by Good Therapy
Lindsay  Lindsay

Clara Hughes: ‘I want to erase the stigma’ of mental health issues

Related:London 2012: Clara Hughes fifth in final Olympic race

Months after retiring from professional sports, Olympic medallist Clara Hughes talks about her brush with depression and the Bell Let's Talk campaign.

 

 

Clara Hughes: ‘I want to erase the stigma’ of mental health issues

Months after retiring from professional sports, Olympic medallist Clara Hughes talks about her brush with depression and the Bell Let's Talk campaign.

Ex-Olympian Clara Hughes says engaging youth on mental health is key to removing stigma.

Sport that consumed me for over two decades . . . is now gone. Now it’s just me. No pressure, no expectations, no need to be fast, good, strong or to even improve. Yet I can’t let go of this idea that I always need to be more than I am. And it is eating me alive.”— Clara Hughes, in a January 2013 blog post

Clara Hughes knew the transition wouldn’t be easy, but little prepared her for life after professional sport.

The majority of her time once consumed by gruelling training regimens, the six-time Olympic medallist in cycling and speed skating found herself struggling late last year — at a time she would usually begin winter training — when she began to realize that her life was no longer geared toward the next big race.

“Life in permanent off-season,” she called it in her poignant January blog post, which chronicled some of the mental and emotional difficulties she’s faced since completing her final race at the 2012 London Games.

Nearly two decades since she first entered the Olympic spotlight with two cycling bronze medals at the 1996 Atlanta Games, Hughes, 40, has become a prominent figure in Canada not just for her athletic prowess and signature smile, but also for her candidness about the mental health issues she has faced along the way.

Having slipped into a depression once before, she decided two years ago to come forward with her own story and speak nationally as part of the Bell Canada Let’s Talk campaign about the need to break down barriers and support mental health programs.

“I want to eradicate stigma around mental illness in Canada … I hope my story can help,” Hughes told the Star on Monday.

Launched in 2010, the Let’s Talk campaign is a five-year, multimillion-dollar charitable initiative focused on reducing stigma and supporting both research and mental health-related programs. On Tuesday, as part of its annual Let’s Talk Day, Bell will donate five cents for every text and long-distance call made by Bell customers, as well as any Facebook share of the Let’s Talk image or tweet using the #BellLetsTalk hashtag.

According to Health Canada, one in five Canadians will experience a mental health issue in their lifetime. The Canadian Medical Association, meanwhile, reports that only about half of Canadians would tell a friend or co-worker if they had a family member who struggled with mental health issues.

As someone who once tried to cope alone, Hughes now shares the story of when she began to lose control shortly after the 1996 Olympics. Fixated on her training, she said, she felt isolated and began to gain weight and cry every day. To cope, she threw herself even further into a rigorous training plan that only worsened her mental state.

“The hole was dug and I was piling the dirt on top of myself,” she said.

It wasn’t until a training camp in British Columbia, when Hughes’ doctor mentioned depression, that she reached out for help and began to turn herself around. With the support of professionals, friends and family, she focused on improving her health and went on to win several more Olympic medals before her retirement last summer.

Her professional sports career now over, Hughes said she continues to work daily on keeping herself mentally healthy and wants to encourage others, especially youth, to do the same.

“The only reason I (shared my story) is to try to help other people,” she said. “I really hope that enough people connect to this so, collectively, we can make this happen ... I want to erase stigma.”

This Month In Pictures
NightBushintheSnow.jpg
Members Online
0 Users Online
Guests
Visible
No users online.
Follow Us On Twitter
Like Us On Facebook
Medical News
Suicide Prevention Lifeline
suicidepreventionlifeline.org
Andertoon
Daily Toon Click to enlarge
ANDERTOONS.COM PSYCHIATRY CARTOONSPsychiatry Cartoonsby Andertoons
Tweets Liked by ~ Lindsay (@DepressionForum)
Depression Forums - A Depression & Mental Health Community Support Group
Copyright © 2014 The Depression Forums Incorporated - A Depression & Mental Health Social Community Support Group. All rights reserved.
The Depression Forums are intended to enable members to benefit from the experience of other members who have faced similar mental health issues by sharing their experiences.
* DF does NOT vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any posting or the qualifications of any person responding.
Use of the Forums is subject to our Terms Of Service (TOS) and forum guidelines which prohibit advertisements, solicitations or other commercial messages by members, or false, defamatory, abusive, vulgar, or harassing messages and may subject violators to be banned from the forums.
All postings reflect the views of the author but become the property of DepressionForums.org. Your personal information will never be shared with others.
If you have any questions on how it will be used, please see our our privacy policy.
Information supplied on Depression Forums should not be relied upon and is not a substitute for medical advice from a health professional or doctor.
* DF © is an acronym for DepressionForums.org