Gentle Bamboo Solutions

Mental Health vs an Olympic Champion

Hi,

"She is a selfish sociopath and a shame to the country. We are raising a generation of weak people," he said.

He, Charles Kirk, is a political activist who is accused of treason against the United States.

She, Simone Biles, is probably the greatest gymnastics sportsperson in the history of the sport*.

The irony of the situation apart, Simone Biles is once again shining a powerful light upon mental health and society’s callous response to it.

Simone dropped out of the Olympics citing mental health reasons. This has erupted an ugly public discourse in American, and by extension, in the world media. Everyone has an opinion and most of them (including me) who have not got the foggiest idea about what goes into creating an Olympic sports champion.

Should Simone have twisted her ankle or fractured her wrist, no one with a brain would have mentioned anything about the matter. Both of these are minor inconveniences to a normal person, but can be a career destroying incident when they happen to a gymnast at the wrong time.

Physical health as a reason to drop out of sports participation is completely normal. That doesn’t make you weak. Of course not. But, how dare someone claim mental health reasons.

You have to be a sociopath and weak-willed if you can’t battle your mind. It doesn’t matter whether we understand the seriousness of your illness or not. You better suck it up and perform at the greatest stage ever – during the most difficult time ever.

It’s a shame how we as a society treat mental health. It’s something that generations that follow us will look upon in horror – like we look at the atrocities of generations gone by.

Let’s try to be a little more empathetic with others. Simone Biles (and other stars) won’t read what you and I say publicly. Whether we call her weak or we support her, it won’t make much of a difference to her personally. But, you, me, your (and my) friends and family who struggle with mental health everyday are watching and listening. Our words can make a difference. Let’s choose our words carefully.

Heal, not harm,

Abhilash

* Simone Biles is so good that there are gymnastic moves that only she can do. These moves are literally called Simone Moves after her. She has won innumerable awards at the highest level, defeated champions by a margin which starts getting embarrassing for the competitors, brought respect for the country, inspired thousands of children, and been nothing short of the best role model ever. That’s the point and also not the point of this mail. You don’t have to be that accomplished to take a break due to mental health. But, if even she can’t get a break, then what about mere mortals like you and me?