Recently, Team TYR triathlete Lauren Goss shared a heartfelt blog post with fans regarding her struggles with mental health. As a brand, we were inspired by her brave decision to use her platform to openly discuss a topic so many individuals can relate to. So, this week we sat down for a follow up. To hear more about Lauren’s experience, be sure to check out her original blog post and read on for our interview below.
What made you want to be open about your struggles with mental health and food?
I was on the fence about posting the issues I have been faced with over my triathlon career. So many people see me as a very strong, independent, healthy female; however, I knew personally that I was suffering severely on a lot of fronts. I figured if I came off as this strong individual but deep down I was broken, then for sure there must be someone out there who could relate to my story. Ironically, my experience not only hit home with a lot of my followers, but also helped me to find closure around many of those issues.
As a professional athlete were you afraid to speak openly about what you went through?
I was definitely afraid to speak up in detail about what I was going through. It crossed my mind that maybe I should not share everything, for example the medications I was taking. However, in order to build trust with others to feel comfortable reaching out to me I needed to be 100% open and honest. Since posting my story I have received over fifty messages from childhood friends, college professors, fellow athletes and followers. I think there was a sense of relief for people in hearing that they were not facing these issues alone.
Why did you feel like it was important to be so honest?
I wanted to be completely transparent so that the readers felt a connection with me on an entirely new level. Yes, I am an athlete competing on the highest stage. However, I am also a human being who struggles with real issues. We see so many people, especially those in the spotlight, taking their own lives because they are suffering from similar things. The goal of my post was to let those reading it know that it is okay to feel this way sometimes, and there is always a way out.
What do you think this experience has taught you as a person? As an athlete?
I realized that masking personal issues fixes nothing, if anything it makes everything worse. In order to feel complete and at peace I had to get to the root of why I was suffering from severe anxiety. Once I figured that out, I addressed it and started working on myself. My sleep, training and racing have improved because I no longer feel the same need to prove myself to others.
What advice do you have for others who may be struggling with similar situations surrounding food, sleep, anxiety and/or depression?
I recommend talking to a therapist if you are struggling with similar issues. It is really helpful to speak with someone who is unbiased and knows nothing about what is going on in your world. When I began opening up I learned a lot about myself and the way I was thinking. I also suggest seeing a sleep therapist for CBT-I if getting to bed is an issue for you. While I am not a doctor, I want my followers to know I’m always around to listen if they need someone to talk to.
What are some tips and tricks you’ve found helpful in maintaining your mental health throughout this process?
Quality rest are so important for me and maintaining my health. With regard to sleep I think the biggest thing for me is going to bed when I’m sleepy, rather than when I believe is an “appropriate” bedtime. I used to get into bed at 8:30 because I anticipated having trouble falling asleep. However, that only made things worse. Throughout my experience I have learned that if the body isn’t ready to go to bed then you won’t fall asleep- this can cause anxiety which in turn leads to further insomnia. Now I get into bed when my eyes are closing. If I wake up in the middle of the night and cannot fall asleep for more than twenty minutes, then I get out of bed and watch TV or read on my couch. Once I feel sleepy again then I go back to bed. Always works! Finally, it is important to wake up at the same time everyday no matter what time you get to sleep. The body clock needs to stay on schedule to eventually get into a healthy sleep routine.