Katie Meyer and Mental Health

About a month ago, Katie Meyer, a star goalie on Stanford University’s Soccer team, tragically passed away after losing her battle with depression. News headlines everywhere report about this tragedy and discussed the importance of mental health in sports. Many questions arrised, why did this tragic event happen and how could it have been avoided? Stories like this should not be happening. We will always remember Katie and honor what she contributed to her beloved Stanford and local community.

What was shocking to me was how I could relate to her a little bit. I am also 22, I’m on an athletic team (track not soccer), and I’m also a senior who is close to graduating. I know how it feels to be a student-athlete, and I know the struggle when it feels like the world’s weight is on your shoulders: the feeling you are not performing well enough or the anxiety before a game. I also experienced having little time for hobbies you love, the feeling a coach does not believe in you even if it is not true, not being able to see your friends from back home, a project or essay due every week. It is a lot to balance being an athlete and everything else about college.

It’s a struggle for all young adults, but I think it’s even more of a challenge being a student-athlete. We as a university and as a society need to end the stigma surrounding mental health. Depression and suicide are ravaging this country like a wildfire, especially among young people. We need to normalize talking more about this and comfort those who need it. Everyone deserves and needs to find overall wellness and self-care; physical and mental health are connected to each other. I hope more schools and workplaces can address this elephant in the room in the future.

It’s important to note that mental health is something that affects men and women of all ages. I’m taking my senior perspectives class called Confessional Poets with Professor Michael Thomas. We have read from brilliant writers and poets like Ernest Hemingway, John Berryman, Anne Sexton, and others. It’s incredibly sad to know all of those writers could have written even more beautiful words to inspire us. Also, we have seen beloved actors and celebrities we look up to end their lives in older age. I remember it felt like the world stopped when we heard the news Robin Williams had passed away. Williams brought so much joy and good spirits to so many through his various roles in so many famous movies. Yet not everyone knew that in his personal life he struggled with alcoholism and his overall mental health. It just shows that even rich and famous people suffer like the rest of us.

Life is a beautiful gift. Although, not related to suicidal thoughts, there were some moments in my life where I almost died. I have almost passed away from anaphylaxis a few times, but one event stuck out to me. In October 2020, during my junior year, I was hospitalized from choking. I realized the song “If I Die Young” could have been a reality that night. Thankfully, in the end all was well and the courageous Leonardo First Aid EMT’s were able to save me. One piece of wisdom I learned from that night was there is only “now” to enjoy because tomorrow is never guaranteed.

“Life is worth living” was the name of a show in the 1950’s hosted by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen. That’s how I try to view life; it’s a privilege we can live every day. It’s a privilege to be breathing, to be in fine health, and to have freedom – it shows life is indeed worth living. Since we live, we are able to see the magnificent sunsets and sunrises every day – a tapestry which is from the natural world. We also are privileged (especially being a student at Monmouth University) to experience the beach and the ocean. I love clearing my mind by sit ting at the Long Branch boardwalk to watch the boats sail by, and sometimes seeing the majestic dolphins and whales swim. Since we live, we can experience seeing amazing biodiversity when we walk through forests and other natural landscapes close to our home.

When it comes to relationships, you can still find peace and happiness in your life even if the girl or boy you love does not like you back. Not everything works out in life, but it is never the end of the world. You are also not defined as a person by your GPA, how many athletic titles you win, how many concerts and records you sell out, how much money you make, and much more. You are unique and have dignity because you are you. In life, we are privileged to experience the company of our good friends and family members; from the tough moments to all the good memories and laughs. There are so many blessings in life we unfortunately do not realize all the time.

My final words are this: for anyone struggling from this hurricane of depression or suicidal thoughts, you are not alone in this fight and you are loved. There is professional help available here at Monmouth University like Psychological Services and so many other free services in the local area to help you. And, if you don’t feel comfortable with talking about mental health or depression to a service, please find a close friend to talk to; there will always be someone who wants to see you be well and see you thrive. I guarantee it.