Editorial Columns

Looking At Mental Health in Professional Wrestling

Shalene Hixon takes a look at mental health issues in professional wrestling.

**WARNING: If you are triggered by the mention of depression, anxiety, suicide, etc., I would recommend you not read any further.**

Normally when I write articles for TWM, I try to make it as light-hearted as I can. This includes the occasional joke, playful jab, or some sarcasm thrown in for good measure, but this time I’m going to be a little more serious.

This topic has been on my mind for a little while now, and recent events have made me want to get my thoughts out into an article. It’s a sensitive subject for a lot of people, but something that definitely needs to be mentioned.

I’m talking about mental health, more specifically, wrestlers and mental health issues. This isn’t an uncommon subject by any means. I deal with mental health issues, as do my friends and family, but wrestlers aren’t exempt from this just because they’re in the public eye more than most.

There have been several examples in recent years about how much it can take a toll on them. The first and most prominent example is former WWE diva, Ashley Massaro, who died of an apparent suicide at the age of 39 last month. Those close to her talked about how she battled depression for many years, possibly due to injuries she sustained while wrestling.

Larry Sweeney, a wrestler who worked for Chikara and Ring of Honor in the early-to-mid 2000’s, had also committed suicide at the age of 30 back in 2011. He suffered from bipolar disorder and had a serious mental breakdown in 2009 that he described as being one of the worst moments of his life.

Several others have opened up on social media and in interviews about their own personal battles with mental health issues. Last month, Bray Wyatt talked about how he was in a dark place a few years ago. He mentioned how he lost himself and, even though he didn’t want to hurt, still ended up quitting on himself. It got to the point where he felt like he wanted to “cease completely”.

Aleister Black revealed after winning the NXT Championship that he suffers from anxiety and depression. He said that he feels disconnected from the world around him and sometimes wakes up wondering why he still even wakes up at all. He also mentioned how his anxiety can be crippling at times.

AEW’s newest signee, Jon Moxley, opened up about his battles with depression while he was still working with WWE. When he was on the shelf with a triceps injury in 2018, he had several setbacks on the road to recovery, including a staph infection that almost killed him. He recalled it being a very miserable time in his life.

Even, “The Man”, Becky Lynch has struggled with mental health issues. In an interview several months back, she revealed that she battled depression years ago when she started to get into wrestling. Once she quit early on in her career, she said that she thought the door closed on her for life. The fear of success, failure, and the future took its toll on her, but luckily, she was able to return to the industry and hasn’t looked back since.

What I’m trying to get at here is that wrestlers aren’t excluded from having the same problems we face on a daily basis; they’re humans too and should be treated as such.

Unfortunately, they have to be put on a pedestal for the world to see almost 24/7, 365 days a year. They’re made out to be these larger-than-life characters, these superheroes that millions of people look up to. That’s a lot of pressure to put on an individual, regardless of their line of work, and not everyone can handle that as well as others.

We all have our challenges and inner demons we have to face, and wrestlers aren’t any different. They aren’t perfect and make mistakes like the rest of us, and don’t deserve to be crucified for it just because they are “famous”.

It’s good to see that more and more wrestlers are opening up about their struggles, because it’s something that needs to be talked about. I personally think that’s what makes them more relatable; that sense of authenticity and vulnerability that shows they are just like you and I.

Now for those out there who may be suffering, just know that you are not alone. No matter how isolated you may feel, there are people who love and care about you. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone instead of suffering in silence. Things will get better, even if it doesn’t feel like it now.

You are stronger than you think, and you can get through this.

If you are struggling with any mental health issues or even just need to talk, call the Samaritans on 116 123 – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

In the US, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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You can find the author of this article on Twitter @Shalenehixon21. Thanks for reading!

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