Olympic gymnastics gold medalist Aly Raisman discusses battle with PTSD, Tokyo Games

Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman on Tuesday opened up about her ongoing struggle with post traumatic stress disorder and emphasized the importance of mental health care for athletes prepping for next year's Tokyo Olympic Games.

Raisman told the TODAY show that her adjustment to a post-Olympic lifestyle has been difficult. In 2018, Raisman testified against former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, and she was among more than 350 girls and women who said Nassar had sexually abused them. Nassar is in prison with an effective life sentence on both federal and state charges.

"I'm prioritizing my mental health and practicing self-compassion," Raisman said. "It's hard to put into words how much (the abuse by Nassar) impacted me. … I feel like the sexual abuse kind of took away that trust in myself, which I'm really struggling to get that back. (PTSD) has transferred into different parts of my life. I'm getting better at trusting in my gut and believing in myself if something isn't right."

Aly Raisman said Tuesday she has been dealing with PTSD. (Photo: Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY Sports)

Raisman discussed how this summer's postponement of the Tokyo Games would affect athletes' mental health, calling it "devastating." The Games were rescheduled as a result of global concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, and the International Olympic Committee announced this week that the Tokyo Olympics would take place in August 2021, with or without COVID-19. 

"I think it's really important for athletes to prioritize their mental health," Raisman said. "I can't imagine how devastating this is for everyone involved in the Olympic Games. But I also want to (emphasize) about prioritizing athletes' safety. This pandemic has been so far-reaching." 

Raisman shared details about her new mental health partnership with Sanvello Health, a digital mental health platform where users can share experiences and practice a holistic lifestyle. Raisman had previously discussed her trauma from the Nassar abuse re-surfacing in a therapy session earlier this year and chronicled the difficult path to recovery. 

"I've learned that the best thing to do is to ask for help and communicate with people," Raisman said. "I don't want people to feel alone, and healing isn't one size fits all."

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