Stephanie Labe, whose goal heroics helped Canada win gold at the Tokyo Olympics, says she could not train for part of the Games due to “high levels of anxiety and multiple panic attacks”.
The 34-year-old from Stony Plain, Alta., who has shared her mental health struggles in the past, has reopened to promote FIFPRO’s “Are You Ready to Talk”—a psychic from an organization representing 65,000— Health awareness programme. Pro soccer players around the world.
A rib injury ruled Labe out of Canada’s opening game against hosts Japan at the Olympics. Ultimately, the verdict was that she could continue playing despite the pain. Labe missed out on just one game, giving Canada a penalty shootout victory over Brazil in the quarter-finals and Sweden in the final.
But it came with a cost, as Labe explained in an essay released by FIFPRO, “Winning the Olympics is not enough to heal mental health.”
“I had no idea this injury would trigger an inherent vulnerability in my mental state,” Labe wrote. “My adrenalin got so high, and my neuromuscular system was so finicky that I struggled to come down between games, resulting in high levels of anxiety and multiple panic attacks. It got to the point where I could quarter could not train between [quarter-finals] And the final because I was so excited.”
Labbe said she knew it was not a performance concern.
“Looking back, I find that it was the build-up to everything that I experienced in the past year – the pandemic, the change of coaching staff, the lack of clarity on my position in the team – reaching the Olympics was not just that. . A magical cure for all this,” she said.
“When that final whistle blew and we won the gold medal, I was expecting a huge relief, but it didn’t come. No matter how much I wanted to relax and celebrate with my teammates, I felt that wave of awareness. Couldn’t climb back down from the aggravated position, and I spent 48 hours after basically lying in a dark room.
Lebe, who recently moved to French powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain, has previously chronicled the dark times in 2012 and after the 2016 Rio Olympics.
In 2012, while she was feeling fine with her club side, time with the national team took its toll. So she disappeared from the 2012 Olympics, where Canada won the bronze.
After winning bronze at the 2016 Rio Games, she started having the same feelings with her Washington Spirit Club side. In September 2017, Spirit announced that Labe was taking medical leave for the remainder of the NWSL season.
“I couldn’t wait to get home and share my achievement with as many people as possible,” says Labe after winning the Rio bronze medal.
“However, when it came down to everyone to actually see the medal and talk about the experience – I began to feel an emptiness inside. I began to feel that this piece of metal was worth more to me than I was as a person. And I think it started a spiral for me. With no immediate competition in the near future, I started to lose my motivation.”
She says that over time she “learned to find a balance between what I had achieved and what I deserve, and I came to cherish my medals once again – especially when I consider That’s how hard I have worked both physically and mentally to reach that point in my career.”
Labe says that the mental health issue, recently highlighted by gymnastics star Simone Biles and tennis ace Naomi Osaka, “the problem is that when a mental-health challenge comes along, it’s so hard to recognize and express.” It is possible.”
“Mental illness is very hard to define. It’s not like an umbrella diagnosis that everyone can fall under, and even one person can have two completely opposite experiences from it. So So important is FIFPRO’s ‘Are You Ready to Talk’ initiative – it provides players with the tools and resources to deal with the mental challenges they may face in their careers.
“Sometimes it seems that our mental health is directly linked to our performance on the pitch, and while I understand that it is certainly a factor – it is not the whole picture. Once the trophy is lifted, And the fans have stopped applauding – a player has the ability to feel the least. It is at this point in time when we need support the most, when we are only human beings.”
In launching its mental-health program in June, FIFPRO said its research shows that up to 38 percent of football players suffer from mental-health symptoms during their careers – and that there are difficulties coping with the pandemic. The number of players has increased.