“It’s usually the ones like me with bucket loads of friends, always on the go, so outgoing, who are the most depressed.”
Loren Rowney is a world-class professional athlete.
She races at the highest level of women’s professional cycling on a strong and successful team.
She’s self-motivated and has the drive of a champion.
She’s reached the top of her field and is good at what she does.
And she seems happy: when you see her interviewed or captured in a candid photo she’s usually laughing or smiling.
And yet in a recent article, Loren opened up about her struggles with depression.
She says that when she's home, on her own, her mind turns to dark thoughts:
“They just flood your mind — I can’t explain why or how it happens, but it does, and it’s so f***ing hard to drag yourself out, particularly when you’re alone…
“Particularly with elite athletes, we only know how to function at the highest level, we base everything we do on performance, we judge ourselves, we compare ourselves, and to be honest, it can become quite exhausting.”
Loren is speaking about an experience I’ve seen in many highly-driven, successful people.
The Hidden Depression of the Highly-Driven
These individuals might be in business, or healthcare, education, or tech. They can get things done and do them well.
They’ve been ambitious in their professions and often move up the ranks into positions of significant responsibility and authority.
They have friends and family, go on vacations, they’re a joy to be around.
But when you take the projects away and when the children are in bed something changes.
Without the external tasks and immediate concerns to hold onto, their energy drains away.
Their mood falls. They can feel leaden, paralyzed, and hopeless.
Loren talks about why she can be so active and positive on the outside when at her core she’s truly struggling:
“I believe it’s because I try to distract myself from me. I have never particularly liked myself, I’ve always been my worst critic, we all are, but it’s like I just want more and more from myself, and I just can’t seem to get it.”
So What Do You Do?
Reaching out can change the cycle of distraction and silent suffering. Reaching out can bring relief.
Whether you begin therapy or talk to a close friend, finding somebody you can speak to openly about all of your painful thoughts and feelings is a huge step towards feeling better.
“I was slipping, but I realized it, so I contacted my dad and we talked. It was as simple as that.
“Someone who I trust dearly, even though we have had our differences. He is one person I know that understands my strange mind.”
Loren also makes a plea to others who might be struggling in a similar way: