On May 26, Maddie Phaneuf wrote a crisp and revealing blog post about her struggle with mental health issues after the 2018 Olympics. The blog post was titled Invisible Battles, and like many who suffer from a mental health crisis, her struggle was real but often difficult to discuss candidly. Phaneuf does a great service to the community by describing the symptoms she experienced and how she sought help from mental health professionals.
Phaneuf was eventually diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD as a result of falling ill with strep throat during the 2018 Games and being unable to race. The myopic pursuit of excellence and fulfilling the Olympic dream took an unexpected turn in PyeongChang that left her feeling like a fraud. She questioned her identity as an athlete as she contemplated leaving the sport. The let down of being named to the Olympic team then falling ill and not racing precipitated a downward spiral for the now twenty-four-year-old.
“When we learn about PTSD we usually tie it with war veterans, so it’s not common for people to associate PTSD with athletes,” Phaneuf wrote in her post.
In this episode, we speak with Phaneuf who has relocated to Lake Placid, New York after a stint in Boulder, Colo. She has since rekindled balance in her life and is pursuing a spot on the US Biathlon team. She also reflects on the importance of seeking professional help. That’s also a recommendation FasterSkier promotes.
Here’s some advice from Phaneuf on finding balance and maintaining wellness that was included in her blog post:
If you’re interested in non-therapy ways I’ve found help me feel more balanced and generally happy, here’s that list. Again, I’m not a health professional, if you’re struggling – talk to a professional.”
Getting outside and exercising
Less screen time
Journaling my feelings
Mediating or practicing Savasana
Surrounding myself with people I love
Getting enough sleep, eating well, and staying hydrated