Last year, Canadian cyclist Gillian Carleton won a bronze medal in the Team Pursuit at the Olympic Games, and signed to Specialized-lululemon, winning a stage at the San Dimas Stage Race and one at the Tour of Languedoc Roussillon for them. But she's just revealed in a blog for Bicycling.com that this year has been a huge struggle for her, and she's taking a break from road cycling to get help for her depression.
When I finally do get kitted up and out the door, it's with shaking legs and a pounding head, the result of drinking myself to sleep or binging and purging and cutting all morning in an effort to punish myself for being, in my eyes, a waste of time and a disappointment as a professional athlete. Needless to say, I have not been setting any personal records this year. Every once in a while, the thunderstorm in my mind quiets enough that I remember how much I love doing this, but those days have been few and far between.
I am done with living like this. I cannot be a good teammate, a good athlete, a good daughter, a good girlfriend, when my head and my heart and my lungs and my legs are begging so desperately for a break. For years I have been able to keep my frantic anxiety and mania at bay with cigarettes, with alcohol, with antidepressants and sleeping pills, with cuts that get bigger and more numerous on my arms and legs...but now I am scared of what might happen if I stay silent any longer.
It was a difficult blog to read - very honest and searing - but it's important, too, because not only does talking about one's mental health problems help the person, but it raises awareness for other people. And once again, I'm so happy that there are teams out there like Specialized-lululemon, that support their riders 100% and want what's best for them above all. I think about the Heidi Swift interview with Ina-Yoko Teutenberg earlier in the year, and how she talked about the same pressures, and how the team put her personal health, physical and emotional, above everything else,.
My huge best wishes to Gillian for her treatment, her future, her self. I'm sure she'll come back even stronger. If you want to send Gillian some twitter-love, I'm sure she'd appreciate it.
this is very difficult to speak about, but i'm doing my best. thank you all for your never-ending love and support. http://t.co/vyrtVyFHv8— Gillian Carleton (@gilliancarleton) August 24, 2013