There are some truly terrible people out there – especially on social media. I find it unimaginable that anyone has the gall to criticize Simone Biles’ withdrawal from competition, or anything for that matter, especially when they cite mental illness. Sh*t happens that no one else but that person knows or experiences.
I remember when I was 17 years old, all of a sudden, I had a full-on anxiety attack at JFK airport. This was after I’d spent months talking my mom into going on the world’s greatest Spring Break trip to visit my sisters in Western Australia. We were going to fly and spend time in each place and our routing was: JFK-SFO-HNL-SYD-PER-SYD-NAN-LAX-JFK.
My parents thought I was joking when, after all our trip preparation, I told them at the gate that I couldn’t get on the plane. They both laughed at first until they quickly saw I wasn’t joking. I started crying. My mom started crying because she didn’t know what was going on. And my dad started crying because he no longer had the house to himself for two weeks.
Both of my parents were amazing. They gave me support, time and love. They took me to different doctors to determine the source of my anxiety. The psychologists didn’t help but eventually a naturopath did … and they were unheard of back then.
It took me three years to get over my fears and the main problem was that I was on too much asthma medication, which gave me anxiety. My fear of flying to Australia came from my asthma doctor who said, “You’re going to Australia?! You know that’s a 20-hour flight? You might have a difficult time breathing since planes are pressurized.”
She put the fear of God in me since I had no idea what pressurized even meant and I had only flown a dozen of times and never out if the country. But not being able to breathe was all I needed to hear to become very fearful. It was no wonder I had a full-on anxiety attack. I not only became afraid to fly but at times, afraid to leave the house.
My point is that if someone is brave enough and smart enough to pull out of something they’ve dreamed of, then give them love and support. Imagine trying to do flips in the air with the world watching and not have confidence? One wrong move could cripple you for life. It’s not for any one of us to judge Simone …. or anyone else’s personal decisions about their wellbeing. I’m now a bigger fan of Simone then I was a few days ago because now she’s a hero to so many more people.
PS: I would like to see any of these critics just try and walk across a balance beam let alone do a flip on it.
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