“Mania is, as Leite described, neon. If I am full-blown manic, I am All; I am the Greatest Writer Who Ever Lived, I am a Deity and, as such, require My Pronouns and Titles to be capitalized. I rive skulls, rend nature, exert Myself upon the universe, Intelligence and Sex and Creativity, a Perfect Creature, Napoleon, immune to even heat-death, My mind red-shifting, driven by murmuring voices which I can hear but never make out. I am a Run-On Sentence, a Living James Joyce Passage, and I file essays with 386 word lede sentences, which are, really, as apt a metaphor as I am able to offer, a truly definite porthole, in My Indomitable Opinion; I am Ego, Great and Powerful and Right Ego, gloriously and deliriously thrilled with Me, Myself, the complete and utter inverse of bitter depression, I’m not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough, flipped and reversed and shot screaming up in to the night like a bullet, a Catherine Wheel, a cruise missile, a Saturn V, the Immolating Flight of the Wendigo, the very thoughts and prayers and animus of the Earth and creation itself, King of the Towering Peak with tears lashing My eyes, and everything laid out before Me, for Me, to be manipulated by Me; I am Galactus.”
“Athletes, like everyone else, suffer from mental-health issues—ailments generally far more difficult to assess than a pulled muscle or broken bone. Unlike everyone else, however, athletes perform in controlled, quantified environments. A person who isn’t in training doesn’t always have crystal-clear markers for how an anxiety disorder impacts their life, but an athlete faces cold numbers every time they step on the field: distances run, assists made, goals scored, games won.”
“The tennis player, the golfer, the free-throw taker or field-goal kicker or fustian batter with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth—all are under the kind of immense pressure from which our most precious natural resources are made, and those who transmute in the heat and weight are paid like the valuable commodity they are.”
“Sports reward toughness, both physical and mental, and the language in which sports gets talked about, from locker rooms on out, hinges on the idea of toughness. Athletes must be able to deal and overcome, to perform, when pressure is high. Their ability to do so, they are told, is what separates them from the general public; the ability to do this seamlessly and perfectly is what separates the transcendent athletes from the merely mediocre or even great. There’s truth in these clichés, but also something that is all too easily weaponized. It’s an outlook that encourages athletes to put up a facade in order to avoid admitting to weakness.”
“Here is Nicole, slight and fleet, less than 100 pounds soaking wet with her straight blonde hair pulled back into a ponytail, pacing her Division III cross country team at a regional meet in Letchworth State Park, on the cusp of the Grand Canyon of the East. She looks effortless, fluid, far in front of her teammates. Afterwards, she flops into a pile of leaves near the finish line and smiles broadly, the kind of beaming smile which is brought out only by pain and exertion.
That smile belies terrible suffering. The agonizing fissures expanding across her shins; the apathetic frigidity; her isolation on the bus ride back to campus; the array of pills and emotions which wash across her nervous system.
She is laying in the leaf pile, smiling in pain, and she has just finished her last race.”
“Consider football and boxing and MMA brains reduced to quivering jellyfish due to relentless poundings and stress that most of us cannot comprehend, much less face down for a living. Consider bodies pushed into perfection, then sliding down the gore-slicked back side of the bell curve into inevitable decay. Consider it all and then imagine how in the world one could possibly go about addressing the issues in play.”
“Brandon Marshall, a Pro Bowl wide receiver for the Chicago Bears, has a mental health disorder. Specifically, borderline personality disorder (BPD), a vicious and frequent emotional oscillation that can lead to instability in relationships, work, and thought processes. It is not one of the oft-fetishized and self-appointed disorders—some forms of mental illness being perversely desirable in popular culture, romanticized afflictions in the vein of aloof, cruel genius and functional addiction. In the NFL, where admitting even physical damage to the brain was long thought to be a shameful sign of weakness, to have someone of Marshall’s status be forthcoming about an invisible, non-trauma induced brain issue is borderline miraculous.”