Bell Mental Health Series – Travis Gerrits and Mercedes Nicoll
This article is brought to you by the Canadian Olympic Foundation for the March 2018 edition of STRIVE.
Canadian freestyle skier Travis Gerrits understands the stigma behind mental health. After competing in the Olympic Winter Games 2014, Travis was diagnosed with Type 1 Bipolar Disorder, but he wasn’t going to let that define him.
It was difficult to come to terms with having a label, but he was determined to see past it and not let it take over his life.
Travis fell in love with aerials at a very young age, and the passion and exhilaration of the sport has only become stronger over the years. The feeling of flying through the air gives him a sense that he can overcome whatever is holding him back, physically, emotionally and mentally. It allows him to focus on what’s happening in the moment and that’s what he truly lives for.
Travis realized something was different when he was trying to get back into training after Sochi 2014. He was falling into a depressive state and it wasn’t the first time he had experienced something like this. It was something he had felt for many years, off and on.
Type 1 Bipolar Disorder isn’t something that happens on a day to day basis. For Travis, it often comes in 3-week periods with severe highs and lows, from manic episode to depressive episode. This makes training and competing just that much more difficult for him.
With the help of specialized sports psychologists, medication and therapy, Travis has continued on in his success. Sharing his story has given him the chance to inspire others to seek help and get the treatment they need. Thanks to the funding through the Canadian Olympic Foundation from Bell, Travis and many other Canadian athletes can afford access to the tailored mental health services they may need.
You can view Travis’ full length video here. Join the conversation #BellLetsTalk
Very few things scare snowboarder Mercedes Nicoll, and depression is definitely not one of them.
Every time she gets up on top of the halfpipe she gets excited. A heartwarming feeling takes over and it’s one of the best feelings you could ever experience. She feels like she’s on top of the world. Then, her whole world came crashing down.
After a devastating crash during practice runs in Sochi 2014, Mercedes knew something was different. Her personality was wiped, her sparkle was lost.
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Two tops that make me, me 🙋. @teamcanada @happinessisinc . Two teammates I get to share this journey with 👩👧👦. @dklivingston @caleventures . . I am Canadian 🇨🇦. I persisted when the Dr. told me to retire🙆 . We Are Team Canada 🙌. . . #teamCanada #redsweater #canada #persistence #happiness #🤗 #smile #yesyoucan #olympics #peyongchang #snowboarding #thatlookthough #🤣
She fell more than 2 storeys, backwards into the half pipe, crushing both her hip and the side of her face. She worked so hard to get to Sochi, and now all of it was coming crumbling down. She knew she was concussed, she had no idea depression was about to sink in.
Depression is something that just takes over. You can look fine on the outside, but inside you’re falling apart. Mercedes is not afraid to live with depression. It’s a part of who she is, and she hopes to inspire others to share what they have gone through because once you share it, everyone can heal together.
While going through recovery for her injuries she took up art therapy. Painting and putting all of her emotions out there, for everyone to see. Expressing all of her feelings on canvas was her outlet that helped her through the darkest of times.
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I've learned a lot in the past four years. It wasn't an easy journey, but I'm grateful to be back💖. . It was never a dream of mine to compete at the Olympics, as I started competing in snowboarding the Olympics became a goal. . At my first Games in 2006, I fell in qualifiers, ending my first Olympics with the surge of revenge in my body. . In my backyard at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics I made my way through qualifiers, semifinals and finals ending up top Canadian in halfpipe, 6th place. I had @marniemc2 and @rickhansenfdn asking me how I though I could do at the next Games… . For my third Games, Sochi 2014 was a contest that would change my life forever. 2014 did not go many people's way, due to sever snow conditions. A crash in practice that took over two years to recover from, not knowing, only hoping I would snowboard again. . Three years ago I could not have imagined my 4th Olympics being a possibility. I've worked my ass off to get back to sport and snowboarding, now after my hardest journey so far, I get to represent Canada at the Olympics again. . It wasn't an easy journey, I'm grateful to be back. I'm so proud to officially announce that I'll be headed to my fourth Olympics! 🙋❤️🏂. . Thank you for your encouraging words over the last four years, you helped me get back to the Olympics! 😘❤️🙌. . . #olympian #roadtopeyongchang #canadian #blondshavemorefun #🙋
Mercedes was also very fortunate to have access to several sports psychologists who helped her through her journey. Now, on the path to PyeongChang, she’s got her sparkle back. Thanks to funding through the Canadian Olympic Foundation and Bell, high performance athletes like Mercedes can get access to the mental health services they need.
You can view Mercedes’ full length video here. Join the conversation #BellLetsTalk