Merryweather Speaks Candidly About Mental Health And Battle With Anorexia
In a piece for Team USA for Mental Health Awareness month, Olympian Alice Merryweather opened up and spoke candidly about her battle with anorexia this past year.
COVID-19 has affected sports in many ways throughout the past year. Not only has COVID threatened our physical wellbeing, but it has also placed more strain on everyone’s mental health.
I’m no stranger to this myself; in the spring of 2020, early into the pandemic lockdown, my mental health took a deep dive. I was struggling to find housing for the summer, taking a hefty course load remotely through Dartmouth College, and battling a severe fear of complacency as spring training ramped up. This perfect stress-storm, abetted by the uncertainty of lockdown and the new virus, was the final blow that sent me deep into my own mental health crisis: a battle with anorexia nervosa.
Though I wasn’t formally diagnosed until October 2020, I began significantly restricting my intake sometime in March. In each of the three or four years prior, I would end my race season thinking some version of this to myself: “you should really go on a diet. All that European hotel food has been making you fat, and you don’t even look like an athlete anymore.”
Last spring, I hit a new low. I resented myself from a performance standpoint for not meeting my goals. Physically, I believed I had overeaten every day and couldn’t even bring myself to look in a mirror. Mentally, I felt disappointed, upset, and like I no longer controlled my own destiny. Unintentionally, my eating disorder became my way back to some semblance of control (or so I thought).
At the end of the piece, Merryweather gave advice for those struggling to seek help. "Asking for help doesn’t make someone weak, but rather it makes them courageous enough to admit their vulnerabilities and try to improve...I encourage anyone who is struggling to talk to someone, whether they’re a friend or family member or a professional. It might be the scariest thing you do, but it also might end up being the best."
Merryweather recently returned to the mountain for on-snow training with her teammates at official training site Mammoth Mountain, in California. She has shared that she feels more joy than ever for the sport, and she's looking forward to the upcoming season.