Talking About Mental Health through MindTricks

Tuesday, July 16, 2019
Photo: Angie Marino

Talking about your feelings is still hard, despite the messages we're getting that it's OK to say you're not OK.  With athletes especially, I think it does the community good when you know someone who is going through the same motions as you. As you're reading this casual conversation I had with Nikita about the new company she co-founded with Pat Kelly, I hope this gives you the strength to share your stories too. To learn more about MindTricks, keep reading below.

What is MindTricks?

So last week I posted something on my Instagram that outed some struggles (mental health-related) that I went through last summer. My good friend saw it and asked if I knew of any resources in action sports related to mental health. I hadn't, and that sparked a conversation between us to potentially start something.

Bottom line, we don't talk about mental health enough. So the idea behind it was let's make a page where we can do posts of athletes sharing their personal stories. To get the conversation going, to reduce the stigma around it, and to hopefully inspire others who might read a story similar to theirs and let them know they are not alone.

Let’s talk #MentalHealth 🧠⁣ ⁣ About this time last year I was holed up in my room.⁣ ⁣ I was pretty sure at that point that this was it.⁣ ⁣ From the outside looking in, it appeared I was living the dream. Winning contests. Traveling the world. And I was.⁣ ⁣ But I was also fighting the silent killer that was eating away at me every day. Constant panic attacks. Unexplained pain. Mood swings. Pure hopelessness that nothing would ever get better and my life was over. ⁣ ⁣ My team didn’t give up on me. And helped me out of that hole even when I thought I couldn’t be helped. I owe them everything for that. ⁣ ⁣ It’s nearing that time again, which makes me nervous. Who knows what will happen in the future. Who knows if it will come back. But for now we just have to live day by day and trust the process. And talk about it. As much as possible.⁣ ⁣ Even those “living the dream” are human. And mental health shouldn’t be a sensitive subject. #endthestigma #whatyoudontsee #anxiety #depression #actionsports #BMX #Olympics
A post shared by Nikita Ducarroz BMX (@nikita.ducarroz) on

Why do you think mental health is so hard to talk about?

I feel like it has to do with the fact that we can't see it. A broken leg is easy to explain. You can physically show it to someone and they don't doubt you. But when we're talking about internal things, it's harder for people to understand. A personal example is that on the outside I always appeared pretty outgoing and "normal". No one would believe that in order for me to get to the skate park that day, my parents had to borrow an RV so that I felt like I was taking my house with me.

And so now, because of the stigma around it, it discourages people from talking about it. Me included. I'm scared to tell people sometimes because it might make me less of a person or less capable.

And I think also because sometimes there isn't a concrete explanation for it. When you break your leg, you're like "oh I feel and my leg snapped". But with mental health, sometimes you have no idea why you are feeling the way you do. Sometimes there isn't a set situation that happens, it just starts. And then you're sitting there thinking, there's nothing wrong, why do I feel like this. And that makes it worse.

So then, what was your motivation to open up? I mean that’s really scary, especially given the stigma today. Also, what happened when you did open up? Did your fears/ negative expectations become reality?

I think I first opened up in a video I did for a HS project so I was about 14. The response has always been good but for some reason, there is still that bit of fear especially when thinking about opening up to people who you feel are counting on you. You just never really know how people will react. And sometimes it’s just a matter of them, not understanding.

Inspire isn’t the right word, but who inspired you/ gave you that green light to say, "hey it’s ok, to be honest about what’s going on"? I guess for lack of words did you have someone that pioneered the way of sharing vulnerabilities? Mine personally was seeing Drew B being raw and real during his RedBull FMB vlogs. Or actually, reading Ronda Rousey's book was an eye-opener if were picking any athlete

I honestly don’t really remember anything specific. I was pretty young and I feel like social media wasn’t as huge then. It just sort of happened. And once I opened up that one time, it just got easier and easier AND I saw how many others struggled as well.  Even today, I think my anxiety is so much less in situations when the person I am with knows. I feel less pressure about having to hide it.

Co Founder: Pat Kelly

You’ve for sure come a long way and on a personal level, I’m proud of your progression. So let’s talk about MindTricks, super clever name and play on words. What can we expect? And who can we expect to see share their stories?

Thanks! Yeah, my cousin, Val came up with it while I was trying to find a name and we loved it right away. As far as content, the idea is just to do a few posts a week where athletes share their stories. I don’t want to name anyone until it’s posted but the response from the community including a lot of top pro riders has been amazing and I’m excited to share it with everyone!!

That’s awesome, I was checking out your form and I like that an athlete can potentially submit the story totally anonymously! Other than Instagram is MindTricks on any other platforms?

Just Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook for now. But everything will be posted through Instagram.

Want to share your story? Submit one here and give MindTricks a follow on Instagram!

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