Lindsey Vonn on strain of Olympics, mental health: ‘Everyone should have a therapist’

‘We should all take mental health seriously and do our best every day to make sure we’re taking care of it,’ the Olympic ski champion says.

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Lindsey Vonn hosts the 2020 Sports Illustrated Awards at AG Production Services on December 10, 2020 in North Las Vegas, Nevada. 

Lindsey Vonn hosts the 2020 Sports Illustrated Awards at AG Production Services on December 10, 2020 in North Las Vegas, Nevada.

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Early in her Olympic skiing career, Lindsey Vonn didn’t talk about depression.

She viewed it as a sign of weakness and didn’t understand the impact it was having on her. Also, in American society at the time, mental health wasn’t exactly the topic of the day

“I wish I had been able to — or been strong enough to — talk about it back in the early parts of my career,” Vonn says. ”But I think the older I got and the more support I got from others, the more I realized there’s no shame in it.”

That’s why, with people soon to be paying attention to another Olympics, Vonn, 36 and now retired from competition, is eager to talk about mental health and the stressors athletes face.

“I feel like, honestly, everyone should have a therapist,” she says. ”It should be like having a dentist or going to a pediatrician. We should all take mental health seriously and do our best every day to make sure we’re taking care of it.”

Vonn won two medals at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and a third in Pyeongchang in 2018. In 2012, she revealed she had been fighting depression, which runs in her family, for more than a decade and taking anti-depressants to manage her symptoms.

Vonn has three dogs she says she has leaned on in difficult moments. She adopted one of her dogs, Leo, in 2014 while recovering from a knee injury that caused her to miss the Sochi Games. And Vonn famously brought another, Lucy, with her as she traveled for competition in the final years of her career, including to the Pyeongchang Olympics.

“I think dogs give you a level of unconditional love and support that you don’t, unfortunately, get from humans,” she says. ”Lucy doesn’t know that I ski race. She doesn’t care. She’s just happy every time I walk through the door. For me, that always gave me a sense of peace and stability.”

Read more at usatoda.com.

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