The Winter Olympics will take place this upcoming February in South Korea.
One of the premiere events in those Olympics is women’s figure skating and one of America’s best hopes for a medal in that event may not get to compete.
Her name is Gracie Gold (what a great name for an Olympian) and her current personal struggle reflects a new normal for many young women throughout the USA.
Gracie Gold is 22, the same age as my daughter Marissa (A college student herself). Gold recently dropped out of an important world competition called the Grand Prix Games because she is in treatment for depression, anxiety and an eating disorder. She originally withdrew from the event for what she called “personal reasons”. Later she decided to let the world know what she was facing in hopes that it would encourage other girls her age to tackle similar struggles they might be facing. All too often high school and college age girls ignore or suppress depression and anxiety. They almost always deny or dismiss the fact that they have an eating disorder. It is rare for them to bring that struggle out into the open!
This makes Gracie Gold’s decision to go public with her problem even more courageous according to Claire Mysko the CEO of the National Eating Disorder Association. She hopes that Gold’s honesty will have a positive impact on girls that feel the shame of having an eating disorder.
Gold also admitted she’s been seeing a psychologist since this past January because of depression, anxiety and the overwhelming feeling that she’s not good enough. Not just as a world class athlete but as an everyday normal person. Gold constantly feels the need to eliminate many self perceived physical and emotional flaws. Those feelings are all too common with females that are ages 16 to 22.
In 2011 a study by the American College Health Association showed that over half of 200,000 College aged girls indicated they dealt with overwhelming anxiety on a regular basis during a 12 month period. Society has created a higher level of pressure on young women and it is growing worse due to both the main stream and social media.
Gold said that all the demands of being an Olympic Athlete became overwhelming when some days she would just struggle to get out of bed and live normal life. Luckily she had the sense and wherewithal to put a stop to it and get herself the kind of help that will make her capable of having a bright and healthy future.
With a rise in teen and college student suicides (up 8-11% in last 10 yrs.), it is important that a public figure brings this topic out in the open. Hopefully, this will trigger discussions between parents and their daughters. The issues and pressures that college girls face are real and we must applaud all girls who open up about them. As parents we must consistently let our daughters know that we are there to help them find the help they need if they are facing depression, anxiety, an eating disorder or any other problem. No matter what happens in her future Gracie Gold is already a winner in my book for her inner strength and for the courage to share her personal struggles!