Tennis Champion Rebecca Marino says when she was at the top of her game, despite all the accolades, she felt like her whole world was falling apart. Four years ago, she walked away from tennis completely to face her biggest challenge, her battle with depression.
"Depression, I would describe it as feeling like you have a hole punched in through your chest," said Marino. She says some of the attention she received was negative and very hurtful, especially on social media. When she left at the age of 22 she told reporters, "Social media has taken its toll on me."
Marino says she never thought she would return to tennis, but now that she has she is back on top of her game. Her Instagram posts @beccamarino show the 27-year-old having just won her first tournament in five years.
Her mother, Catherine Marino, says getting professional help and spending time with family helped her refocus, "It's allowed her to realize that life is really too short not to take the reigns of your own life and she felt she had some unfinished business with tennis."
Marino has also embraced a new role as a leader in discussions about mental health. Take a look at her TEDx talk in Victoria in 2013. This was one of the first times she publicly shared her struggle.
She continues to advocate for awareness and understanding of mental health. She advises we all make an extra effort to support our friends and families by occasionally really asking how they are feeling with real curiosity and availability to listen rather than using the phrase, "How are you doing?" as a substitute for "hello."
In an interview with the Tennis Channel, Marino revisits her years away from tennis and her newfound self-comfort and happiness. Watch her full story at Tennis.com.
There are many organizations working to raise awareness and support those who need help with depression. Here are a few links.
Anxiety and Depression Association of America https://adaa.org
Brain and Behavior Foundation https://www.bbrfoundation.org/
Families for Depression Awareness http://www.familyaware.org/
National Institute of Mental Health https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health