Published By: Holly Ruvo
Interviewed By: Ben Ruvo
Meg Klink is a senior forward on the Women’s Soccer Team at Washington College, located on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. She is an Art History major with a minor in Physics.
Ben: How has your athletic career been shaped since you were a kid until now?
Meg: I have struggled with my mental illness since I was in elementary school. Much of my ability to be coachable and to accept criticism was hindered by my already harsh perception of myself. When I got to college, I found it hard to get to practice and lifts when I was feeling really depressed. Wanting to thrive in athletics can be impossible when your brain sometimes feels the opposite.
Ben: Can you please give us some insight on your mental health experiences?
Meg: I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety when I was 9. I was always very open about my mental health to my friends and peers. In high school, I developed a closeted eating disorder that I didn’t share with anyone. I have been working on my mental health for the past 12 years, but it wasn’t until this past year that I was able to conquer my illnesses.
Ben: How has your mental health journey impacted you as a college athlete?
Meg: College has contained some of my hardest times. Depression can be very hard to explain to people, especially teammates who are dedicating 100% of their time to your sport. When you aren’t working as hard or showing up happy to every practice and game, it’s not a choice— it’s painful. It has taken almost my entire college career to find peace and happiness with myself, which I am now able to translate into the field.
Ben: Do you feel as if BDD and Eating Disorders are being addressed enough? If not, what do you think we could do to bring awareness to these disorders?
Meg: We often talk about nutrition, but we don’t talk about eating disorders. Eating disorders are incredibly dangerous for athletes. The side effects that they can cause will not only decrease your athletic performance, but can be harmful to your permanent health. Also, even if you do not find yourself physically displaying symptoms of an eating disorder, thoughts of body dysmorphia occurs in many people.
Ben: Do you have any advice for people who are dealing with these disorders right now?
Meg: My best advice would be to ignore societal norms. Social media, magazines, movies, etc. often tell lies. Try to remember that all of our bodies are built differently. Weight is a scientific measurement of mass times gravity, not a reason to shame yourself. We are all meant to look different and be different, and that’s what makes each human unique. Don’t try to shame yourself because you don’t look like someone else; look like yourself.
Ben: What do you think schools and coaches could do to address this issue more?
Meg: I feel that we neglect eating disorders in fear that talking about them will make people uncomfortable. Normalizing mental health issues is the best way to make everyone who suffers feel safe. If we pretend like it’s a topic we can’t speak about, then the athletes will be ashamed of the problem. I have been very vocal with my athletic trainers and coaches this past year so they can help me be the best athlete I can be, while still remaining healthy. Once I let them into my life, they were more than happy to help me through my problems and work with me.
Ben: What does mental health awareness for athletes mean to you?
Meg: Athletes need mental health awareness. It’s not an idea, not a suggestion— it’s necessary. Athletes with mental illness are expected to perform the same, despite their constant issues surrounding mental illnesses. Respect is the best thing an athlete with mental illness can be given. If everyone respects each other, then we can work together to create positive and safe team cultures.