December 21, 2022

By Courtney Wise

Good morning, MindSite readers. In today’s Daily, learn why Tyrell Terry of the Dallas Mavericks decided to leave basketball for good to save his mental health. Plus: A law school professor who has schizophrenia says the disease doesn’t have to define you. Superstar gymnast Simone Biles ends her involvement with Cerebral. More older Americans are aging alone. And more.

NBA first-rounder Tyrell Terry steps away from pro career at age 22 in service of his mental health

Two years ago, Tyrell Terry began his NBA career as a first-round draft pick with the Dallas Mavericks. Signing a $6 million contract was the apex of a journey he’d trained for most of his life – with the promise of more to come. But late last week, at just 22 years old, Terry decided to step away from the game for good and focus on blazing a new trail – in service of his mental health and wellness. 

via Instagram

“To most, I will be forever known as a bust, a failure, or a waste of talent,” Terry wrote in an Instagram post. “While those may be true when it comes to basketball, it is the biggest failures in life that lead to the greatest success. There is more for me out in this vast world and I am extremely excited to be able to explore that. And for the first time, to be able to find my identity outside of being a basketball player.”

After news broke via ESPN, his friend and agent, Daniel Poneman, posted an ardent Twitter thread, expressing not only support for Terry’s decision, but declaring him an inspiring example for others. “Tyrell’s bravery to live his truth is beautiful – and his courage to share his story with the world is powerful & inspiring,” Poneman wrote. “The life of a pro athlete isn’t for everyone. And being an NBA player – the money, fame, attention and competition doesn’t guarantee fulfillment.” 

Terry cited crippling anxiety as his reason for retiring from the game, saying that as much as being a basketball player is a core part of his identity, the sport is also where he’s experienced “the darkest times of his life.” In walking away, he sees an opportunity to seek happiness and learn to love himself again. 

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Understanding schizophrenia

What do most people know about schizophrenia? And who do they envision when they think about someone with the condition? Probably not someone like Elyn Saks, a University of Southern California law professor, MacArthur fellow, and Yale Law School grad. Her remarkable 2007 memoir, “The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness,” tells the story of her journey.

via Twitter

USA Today put Saks in the lead of an explainer about schizophrenia – what it is and what it is not – as a way to break some of the stereotypes and images people have about the illness and the people who have it. Most people know little about the condition and may subscribe to the belief – sadly popular in the media – that associates the mental disorder with violence or deviancy. 

A 2012 study looked at 41 movies that featured characters with schizophrenia and found that most displayed violent behavior and a third had homicidal tendencies. Psychology professor Patrick Corrigan, told USA Today that  other risk factors – like gender, age, substance use history and history of legal problems – are far more predictive of violence. “When we focus solely on mental health,” as predictors of violence, he says, “it adds to the stigma and fear.”

Schizophrenia affects about 1% of the population. It is a lifelong psychotic disorder characterized by delusions, hallucinations, impaired cognition and difficulty socializing – symptoms that make it hard for people to secure and maintain treatment, employment and housing. But those impairments don’t have to define a person’s life, Saks says.

“A common misconception is that we’re unable to care for ourselves and that’s not true,” she says. “For some people it is, but not for all of us. We can have relationships – romantic and friendships. But we often don’t see that (in the media) because of the emphasis on sensationalism and ‘othering’ us.”

In other news…

Simone Biles competing in Rio de Janeiro in 2016

Superstar gymnast Simone Biles has ended her endorsement partnership with telehealth company Cerebral, The Guardian reports. The announcement came just yesterday, seven months after the company was subpoenaed by federal investigators over its mental health treatment and prescribing practices. Biles had become Cerebral’s chief impact officer shortly after withdrawing from individual competition at last year’s Tokyo Olympics due to her mental health.

More than ever before, older Americans are aging alone. And while many thrive on their own, the New York Times reports that “research is unequivocal that people aging alone experience worse physical and mental health outcomes and shorter life spans.” In this article, the paper takes a look at how the social shift is affecting housing, personal finance, and health care.

People diagnosed with mental disorders lose time from work due to their illness. Researchers at Denmark’s Aarhus University wanted to know how much. For a study in The Lancet Psychiatry, they followed more than 5 million Denmark residents, 488, 775 of whom were diagnosed with a mental disorder, and found that people with mental disorders suffered a huge loss of work time: an astounding 10.5 years each compared with the general Danish population. “There is a need to to invest in programmes that reduce the burden of working years lost and assist people with mental disorders in returning to the workforce,” the authors concluded.

If you or someone you know is in crisis or experiencing suicidal thoughts, call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline and connect in English or Spanish. If you’re a veteran press 1. If you’re deaf or hard of hearing dial 711, then 988. Services are free and available 24/7.

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Courtney Wise

Courtney Wise Randolph is a writer and creative based in Detroit, Michigan.