It’s been a while since I’ve last written about Football. And while this isn’t exactly about Football, a huge part of its raison d’être is due to this seemingly innocuous tweet:
Andres Iniesta–Spain and Barcelona player–is one of my all-time favorite footballers, and when someone of his caliber gives us a glimpse of the workings of his genius mind, then you’d better pay attention.
Please read the above article in full. It is worth it, I promise you.
I never expected to be so affected by its content; I thought I would just get to learn something new from a great footballer, but I was in tears before I was halfway through the article.
Iniesta has managed to succinctly express what a lot of people are suffering from; what I often feel, in fact.
“Not depression exactly, not illness either, not really, but an unease,”
“It was like nothing was right.”
He needed help; he talks about being “on edge”, “vulnerable”, “victim of something that terrified me”.
Iniesta says he had felt as if he was in “freefall”.
The moment I saw that word was the moment I started to cry.
Have you ever had that moment when an epiphany hits you like a ton of bricks? That was one for me. A single word that encapsulated how I feel.
Freefall. We all experience that internally at some point in our lives. We exist, we function, we feel, we socialize, but nothing ever feels right. We question others, we question ourselves, we question our worth, and before we know it, repeated overthinking and overfeeling becomes a perverse game we reluctantly, but regularly play.
“I know what’s it like, Andres. I know what it’s like.” My mind concurred as I continued to read the article.
Some would choose to easily dismiss these revelations and focus on the fact that he’s a world-famous footballer with enormous wealth and a myriad of honors. Depression and anxiety do not care who you are or how much you earn. He is human, just like the rest of us, and no amount of money or trophies can be a panacea for a broken or hurting psyche.
Imagine if Iniesta hadn’t done something about his struggle. The World Cup 2010 Final and the whole history of Football would have been extremely different. But he did overcome the darkness, and now that he has spoken up about it, perhaps many more others will be inspired to win their battles, too.
I never thought I could admire Iniesta more, but somehow, I have a newfound respect for him.
There are good days, bad days, and unmemorable in-between days, but every day teaches me something. I cannot stress enough the importance of self-care and self-love.
If you, in any way, have been affected by this: Talk to family. Talk to friends. Consult a professional, if need be. Find an outlet. Do things that make you feel alive and happy. Prioritize yourself: The people who love you the most want you to love yourself. Take it one day at a time. Life can be terrible and difficult but it is also wonderful and extraordinary. You are going to be all right. Breathe.
Gravity is not so bad. It’s better to hit the bottom and feel the full impact rather than remain in a constant, endless state of freefall.
Only you can save yourself. You lead life; it does not lead you.
Go and have your Iniesta World Cup Moment. I am rooting for you.