How One Olympian Turned Devastation into Inspiration

Yes, gymnastics is about perfect performances — but it’s also about getting back up after you fall, over and over again. When gymnast Jordyn Wieber failed to make the all-around finals at the 2012 Olympic Games, she was devastated. But two days later, she helped her team win gold. She shares how she’s learned to be resilient through life’s toughest moments and what it takes to move forward. [This talk contains sensitive content.]

This talk was presented to a local audience at TEDxUCLA, an independent event.

Jordyn Wieber, Olympic Gold Medalist, looks at the moments of devastation that at times are part of the fabric of life, and how to turn these into transcendent​ moments of inspiration​. Jordyn Wieber is an Olympic gold medalist and American gymnast from DeWitt, Michigan. This teenage gymnastics phenom caught the world’s attention by becoming the World Champion in 2011. A key member of the “Fierce Five”, Jordyn helped the U.S. Olympic Women’s Gymnastics Team capture the team gold medal at the London Olympic Games in 2012. In 2017, Jordyn graduated from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and currently serves as an Assistant Coach for the UCLA Gymnastics Team. As a former Olympic gold medalist, Jordyn has expansive knowledge of how to succeed in gymnastics, but her influence extends beyond the confines of her winning combination of physical prowess and determination. Jordyn is still one of the top influencers in gymnastics and also serves as a motivational speaker and vocal advocate for preventing child sexual abuse in sports. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx

Frog In A Blender

“Frog In A Blender”

“Mental illness. What comes to your mind, pardon the pun, when you read the words mental illness? I know some people just rush to the quick verbiage of a “crazy person.” And I’m okay with using those descriptors because this particular writing isn’t about what’s accurate or appropriate and description is much as the trueness of your thoughts. I also not naive and I realized several years ago that the mentally ill will continue to be a marginalized group that is misunderstood by the general populace and greatly ignored. The mentally ill tend to be part of the dredges of society. A unique cast system of broken individuals not seen valuable.

After I was diagnosed my heart broke in several pieces. You knew something was wrong with yourself You felt these different thoughts, urges, sensations, and sometimes confusion, and yet as if a paralytic trying to will their legs to move, you yourself or unable to act or think in a normal way.

You know it’s funny as I reflect on a lot of the different relationships throughout my life of coworkers, colleagues, clients, business associates, friends, & lovers. All the while I never felt okay. I felt like I was doing my best to keep a deep dark secret. Who I am must not be found out.

It’s funny, living years with the mind of someone with borderline personality disorder, you think I wouldn’t be nearly so ignorant to what people would think in regards to my behaviors. And yet I felt like I was able to sort of fool people. That I too could be normal. I wasn’t fooling anyone. As the cliche goes I was only fooling myself.

One thing for sure, an individual that struggles with something like borderline personality disorder has his work cut out for himself BUT so do the loved ones who also experience that diagnosis as witnesses. In some ways, it feels like collateral damage and your personal shame grows exponentially because in the normal stable moments of your thought process you’d never want anyone to be harmed with what you struggle with. But that’s not how it works.

So, of course, a lot of people would think with my own life I would use my diagnosis as an enabling tool. That I too am just a victim of something outside of my control. My divorces, broken relationships, personal debts, suicide attempts are things that happened to me.

Man! I would love that excuse! I’d take it and run with it if that was possible. However, my actions are still on me. Even the unknowns in my life are my responsibility to uncover and understand.”

(Excerpt from book)

SLOW DOWN

Why?

To thinking clearly.

To seeing the whole chessboard.

To making tough decisions.

To managing our emotions.

To identifying the right goals.

To handling high-pressure situations.

To maintaining relationships.

To building good habits.

To being productive.

To physical excellence.

To feeling fulfilled.

To capturing moments of laughter and joy.

The sleeper has awakened!

I am not some hero for a fallen and forgotten people but I am here. I really feel like I am awake after 25+ years. I am excited to face life head on. AND IT BETTER BE READY BECAUSE I AM!

https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline

SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357), (also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service) or TTY: 1-800-487-4889 is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Callers can also order free publications and other information.

https://namiut.org/

If you have an emergency, please call 911.

If you or someone you love is in need of suicide prevention support, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org or you can also text TALK to 741741.

For local support, please call the UNI Crisis Line at 801-587-3000. Find additional resources at https://liveonutah.org/.

My Storytelling Moment

In May, I was invited to attend a training class to formulate and express my story in regards to mental health.  After I was selected to attend the training and the speaking event I was emailed a questionnaire.  The instructors wanted to know the subject area of what I wanted to share.  I truthfully had no idea what to discuss.  Knowing that the story sharing time was a mere 5-7 minutes was intimidating to remain relevant while within the guidelines expected.

I asked my wife, Kristen what she thought regarding a topic to speak on.  She encouraged me to just pray about it and give it time; adding that whatever I pick will be great.  There is nothing like that vote of confidence that isn’t lip service, full of genuine belief.  Encouraged with my pep talk from Kristen I decided to weigh the topics I found to be most relevant for this actual event.

The JED Foundation was the group footing the bill for this amazing opportunity and their focus is suicide education with high schools and colleges.  I considered my personal experiences in relationship to this very current and devastating topic.  Unfortunately, I have alot of choices riddled with the epidemic that is suicide.

I decided on story from my life that profoundly impacted me for years.  The video in this is that story.  I hope it is helpful for you or someone you care about.  I am always open to questions and dialogue.  I am not a therapist but I have alot of personal experience to share or just listen.

**TRIGGER WARNING: GRAPHIC DETAILS**

Since sharing this video I have been contacted by numerous people looking to thank me, find resources, talk or just to say it helped them to find the words to talk to a friend.

Dave Tate of EliteFTS even reshared the video that I hope keeps speaking to a group of people that need to be reminded that strength isn’t always about what you can lift.

https://www.elitefts.com/coaching-logs/remembering-wes-mental-health-awareness-month/

If you need support please check out the link below.

https://afsp.org/find-support/
American Federation for Suicide Prevention

https://www.nami.org/Find-Support
National Alliance on Mental Illness

https://www.crisistextline.org
Get free help now: Text CONNECT to 741741

https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
800-273-TALK

https://safeut.med.utah.edu/
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