Tabitha Martin of the Olds Broncos talks about anxiety, and the struggles of body dysmorphia
“I put a lot of pressure on myself as a captain to be like ‘I’m fine, I have to be strong’, but also when I’m most vulnerable with my team is where I find the greatest connection with them,” she said. “I think it’s important for people in positions of leadership or power to be like, ‘I’m not okay, and you might not be okay, but that’s okay.'” “It doesn’t matter how many years you’re in, it doesn’t matter what position you’re in, it doesn’t matter… anything, we’re all struggling.”
A panic attack brought Martin’s struggle with anxiety to the fore at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
I was so confused, I was like, ‘What’s going on? Why do I feel this way? “But I don’t know why,” she said, “and that’s when I started to panic.”
To keep her mind at ease while trying to take advantage of an opportunity, Martin turned to home workouts to find the positives in an increasingly uncertain world. However, Martin said she went too far in the wrong direction, particularly with her diet because she thought it was acceptable.
While Martin sometimes joked about her lack of eating, her support system was confused by how she had changed, with everything coming to a head when she returned to campus.
“It’s funny looking back now because you wish you could do so many different things, but I’d go a few days without eating, or I’d have a granola bar and feel like ‘This is good today,’ and I’d work out, and I’d always feel like crap,” she said. .
“I’ve definitely had a lot of difficult conversations, and I think the most important thing about growing up with mental health is being open to those difficult conversations, and it’s not until you’re ready to have those conversations that you’re going to grow, because if I didn’t hear what they were saying, I could be in the same situation.” in which you were.”
Martin’s inner questioning leads her again and again to the same question, both so simple and so complex in equal measure: Why?
“I feel like I was a second person,” she said. “I was a very different person than others saw me, and they saw me the way, in my head, I hoped, as I hoped people would like me, and they did, but why wasn’t it ‘I’m happy enough’, or why didn’t it please me?” Somehow. It was really hard to think: why can’t I get out of this, why does this keep happening, it’s just the reason.”
Ultimately, her shattered MCL during the pandemic opened the door for Martin to regain control and overcome her anxiety, where she can focus on herself without worrying about anyone else’s opinions.
“A lot of worrying is external efforts or control over your life,” she said. “I know for me, I worry about ‘what is this person going to think of me? or “What am I going to do here?” Will they love me? Will I do good? But at the end of the day, you can only control yourself and your efforts, and… you can’t even control your emotions, really, but you can control how you respond to them, so that taught me a lot about how to cope and how to keep growing.”
However, the MCL recovery process has also meant staying on the sidelines, which has brought another challenge to her battle with the concern: proving her identity and interests out of court.
“Even when the gyms were open or volleyball practice was going on, I couldn’t do anything,” she said. “I was on my own, in that sense, because my whole life, and so many athletes’ lives, describe ourselves as our sport. When that was taken away, it was like, ‘Who am I without this?’ And that’s when I think most of the growth really kicks in.”
Today, Martin is more confident in herself, crediting her parents, Angela and Bruce, and her brother and sister for being there when she needed them, as well as taking advantage of the on-campus mental health services at Olds College.
While she still sometimes struggles with asking why, Martin’s message to anyone who may be struggling before making some mental health noise is simple: Don’t be afraid to admit it, don’t be afraid to show emotion.
“There’s no shame in saying ‘I struggle,’” she said. “There’s no downfall in being vulnerable and acknowledging what you’re going through, it actually gives you more strength. It’s always hard to get over that embarrassment, because you don’t want to feel embarrassed, but it’s important to do so to realize where you can go with that.”
A video feature for the story can be found at ACACTV website.
The Broncos will host three nights of Make Some Noise for Mental Health:
- Jan 20 – Basketball vs. SAIT – 6 PM (Women) / 8 PM (Men) – Ralph Klein Center
- Jan 21 – Volleyball vs. SAIT – 6pm (Women) / 8pm (Men) – Ralph Klein Center
- Jan 26th – Women’s Hockey vs. RDP – 7pm – Olds Sportsplex