Within the worlds of mental health and mental illness, the concept of self care is important. It is one of the tools in our toolbox that allows us to relax and take a break from the havoc that brains are wreaking on us.
In the world of sports, gymnastic superstar and Gold medalist Simone Biles is stepping back from competition for a few days from the 2020 Olympics. Stating mental concerns, she is withdrawing from tomorrow’s women’s all around finals. Whether or not she competes next week in the four individual finals is up in the air.
The most important thing about living with mental health is knowing when you have to step back. I admire her for not just doing what needs to be done, but being open it. It also helps that USA Gymnastics is completely supportive of her decision, which is a nice change from the way Naomi Osaka was treated recently. The response to Biles’s decision is how we should all be treated in cases like this. Unfortunately, that does not always happen.
Regardless of whether or not she leaves Tokyo with additional hardware, she is still a hero in my eyes. Her legacy as a gymnast will live on for decades to come, as will her honesty of how important it is to take care of ourselves physically and mentally.
Mental health is not a joke. Millions around the world suffer and live with it every day. The problem is that it does not get the same respect or treatment that physical health does.
In recent sports news, tennis player Naomi Osaka had to bow out of the French Open due to ongoing mental health issues. Instead of receiving the peace and the privacy that she needs to face her demons, she was attacked in the press and fined by the French Tennis Federation for not doing the expected interviews with the media. Among those who felt that they had the right to put their .2 in is Piers Morgan.
Does anyone notice that his response to Osaka’s decision was similar to the way he reacted to the interview with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry a few months ago? I think it says something about this man that he feels that he can publicly and verbally attack two women of color without getting any blowback.
I am grateful to those who have stood up for Osaka. If she has twisted her ankle and was laid up on the couch for a week, there would be crickets. But because she has chosen to step back and deal with her mental illness, everyone has an opinion. I have spoken frequently of my own mental health battles over the years on this blog. From my perspective, she made the right decision. As important as work is, we cannot function if we are unable to deal with what is holding us back.
I applaud her for being honest with herself and acknowledging the need for self care. My hope is that she will inspire others in a similar situation to do the same.