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Baltimore Ravens player Hayden Hurst is opening up about his experience with depression and anxiety, and hopes to inspire others.
Before the 26-year-old tight end joined the NFL, Hurst was trying to establish himself as a baseball player while a member of a minor league team in Bradenton, Florida. Struggling on the field, Hurst told WTLV that he coped by drinking alcohol and withdrawing himself from his loved ones.
“There were weeks at a time I would sit in a dark room and not want to be around people,” he told the news station. “Just that fear of embarrassment. I had never experienced anything like that.”
It wasn’t until Hurst opened up to his father that he learned he wasn’t alone.
“He told me the family history with his OCD,” he said. “His anxiety and things as well. The depression he went through and it was easier than understanding, ‘Hey he’s been through this and he understands what’s going on.’ Then I laid out ‘Here’s what’s going on in my life.’ “
While Hurst was comforted by this conversation with his father, when he left baseball to join the University of South Carolina football team as a walk-on, his mental health began to suffer once again.
During one terrifying episode, Hurst woke up handcuffed to a hospital bed after a suicide attempt.
“I woke up in the hospital,” he told WTLV. “I didn’t know what happened. I had to have a friend fill me in. Apparently, I had been drinking and went into my apartment and cut my wrist. My friend found me in a puddle of blood. He called 911.”
The incident was finally what prompted Hurst to seek help.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders affect some 40 million adults in the United States every year. It’s common for someone with anxiety to also experience depression, the association reported. Nearly half of people with depression are also diagnosed with anxiety.
Now, Hurst is hoping to raise awareness for mental health, and show other sufferers that they are not alone.
“I don’t have the answers to fix all of this,” Hurst told the news station. “It’s still a trial and error to this day, but I will say I have much more good days than I do bad days. I’m not this superhero that’s portrayed on TV. I’m a regular person. I struggle with depression, anxiety and things like that.”
“For some reason, people equate mental illness with having to be ashamed. It’s something you shouldn’t talk about,” he added. “I don’t think it’s anything to be ashamed of. Everybody goes through something … If my story is going to change the narrative on this and people are going to talk about it more, then so be it.”
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.