Sloane Stephens has a lot of good things in her life. She has money, a career, fame, people, probably more. And, yet, Sloane Stephens reminded us last week that even the best lives can have struggles. And, sometimes, those struggles can be enough to interrupt our happiness.
Stephens, an American tennis player in the WTA, revealed that she had received roughly 2,000 insulting or threatening messages after a recent loss. She talked further about her own mental health struggles and her exhaustion.
Sloane Stephens isn’t the first athlete to be barraged with verbal abuse. Sadly, she won’t be the last. The reality is that the world can be a hard place. And that reality holds true, not just for Sloane Stephens, but for millions of people in America and around the planet. Because no matter what a person’s circumstances are, mental health issues can come pushing through to the front of the line.
The symptoms vary from person to person. It can be an overwhelming fatigue even after a good night of sleep or a sad heart even after a great day. It may feel like a cloud inside of one’s mind, making everything foggy. Mental health struggles can create anger, or frustration, or irritation. They can lead people to sleep long hours every day, or, simply foster a desire to avoid people. It can create a bad day, followed by a good day, followed by another bad day.
The list of symptoms or feelings goes on and on. But, whatever form it takes, whichever person it hits, mental health issues can be brutal, kind of like having an enemy inside the brain, tearing down the person from within. Having thousands of people verbally assault or abuse or hate or threaten can quickly make the struggle worse.
Sloane Stephens hasn’t told us everything about her mental health, nor does she need to. But speaking up can help, both herself and others. And she deserves to be heard. There’s some kind of magic in sharing with people, even with strangers. Some kind of invisible source of energy knowing that someone else feels what we feel.
The powers of speaking, of sharing, of listening, those are powers that heal, that build up. And, when people like Sloane Stephens or our next door neighbor or anybody at all shares the hurt or the struggle, we begin to exercise that power when we listen.
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