Mental Health
How Missy Franklin Works Through Performance Anxiety And Depression

How Missy Franklin Works Through Performance Anxiety And Depression

3 min read


Alyssa Petersel

This week, I share this emotional and motivating piece by the New York Times, highlighting Missy Franklin and her journey with performance anxiety, depression, and life transitions, seeking to bring love and joy back to her career as a swimmer.

I'll include some of my favorite snippets below that I look forward to marinating on this week.

Check out the full piece here, it's worth the read.

  • "The women’s 200-meter freestyle at the national swimming championships served as a giant petri dish for studying the mental health culture in the sport of swimming."
  • "Franklin, once the seemingly always exuberant girl so many predicted would be the next Michael Phelps, now finds herself trying to climb up from the deep, dark depths. Six years ago, when she was 17, she won four gold medals in London. This week, after last year’s double shoulder surgery and amid her continuing battles with depression, she failed to make the United States national team, which means her next major international meet will be the 2020 Olympics — if she can get there."
  • "Phelps, 33, said that 'this big macho mentality' stood in the way of his seeking help. He speculated that Franklin’s ebullience became her roadblock. 'That’s what people love, that’s what people saw,' he said. 'So maybe that’s what she felt like she had to be. When you’re trying to be something that you’re not, it’s so hard. I know.'"
  • "'Even in the hardest times that I went through, there was still effervescence, there was still joy, there was still happiness,' Franklin said. 'That’s just who I am. But there was just now something deep within that that I wasn’t sure how to handle and how to figure it out.'"
  • "She said she had based her identity on being a champion swimmer 'without even realizing I was doing it.' She added, 'And then having that taken away was really, really tough.'"
  • "For Franklin, the joy of rediscovery began with putting herself first, no small feat for a self-described 'people pleaser.' The move from the University of California, Berkeley, where she had been training with the Golden Bears’ men’s team, to Georgia, where she plans to complete work on her psychology degree, was a difficult first step in that direction."
  • "'I was in a very good spot in 2016,' Schmitt said. 'I just don’t think I was all the way there. I probably still am not all the way there, but I’m getting better every day.'"

It's important to remember that even the people we look up experience obstacles and suffering. We do not choose depression or anxiety, or any other mental illness, and it is not necessarily something we can work ourselves out of on our own.

It's important we seek and accept support when we need it. And that we look out for those in our lives who may need support, while their illness is stripping them of the strength to ask for it.

Thank you for reading with us today. If you have any thoughts, questions, or feedback, we'd love to hear from you. Reach our team any time at [email protected].

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About the author

Alyssa Petersel, Co-Founder and CEO of My Wellbeing and author of Somehow I Am Different, graduated from Northwestern University in 2013 with dual BA degrees in psychology and international studies, graduated summa cum laude from New York University in May 2017 with her Master's in Social Work, and graduated from The Writer's Institute non-fiction program at CUNY Graduate Center in May 2017. A native New Yorker, Alyssa now lives in Brooklyn and enjoys running, coffee, community, and social justice.

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