Campbell has become an outspoken advocate for mental health and hopes the raw insight into her own struggles “normalise” the idea of speaking about mental struggles openly.
The 30-year-old won two golds in Tokyo and was one of Australia’s flagbearers, but revealed how a breakdown over a power trip at her house resulted in her starting medication just four weeks prior to the Olympics.
“Sadly for me, it went down a lot further than it needed to,” she told Nine’s Today.
“I had a complete emotional breakdown because the power in my house tripped. I was sobbing and crying on the floor and I was like, ‘Hang on, this is not a normal reaction to the power tripping, there is something going on here’.
“It took me getting to that point … pushing myself to my absolute breaking point before I decided to seek help or support.
“I let it get to a point where life was almost unmanageable for me before I was willing to seek that help.”
While she has become comfortable speaking openly about her mental health struggles, Campbell said it wasn’t always the case.
“For a really long time I was like many people battling and suffering in silence really because I was so eaten up by this shame,” she said.
“I felt like it was a personal failing on my part that I couldn’t think my way out of a mental health problem, or injury, as I like to call it.
“I’ve never been ashamed to talk about my physical injuries. I’ve been very open about the fact that I need lots of physiotherapy, lots of massages, that I frequently go to sports doctors, I often need really intensive anti-inflammatory medication which I go to a chemist and have to hand over a script for.
“However, when I have to go and hand over my script for my anti-anxiety and depression medication, I still feel that sense of shame that, oh my goodness, there’s something deficient in me that I’m having to ask for this as a little bit of extra help, and that just shouldn’t be the case.
“We should be able to talk about struggles that we are having with our mental health in the same normal way that we talk about going to physio to get our physical health treated.
“It reached a point where I realised I wasn’t coping, things had spun out of control and I needed to seek help, but I wasn’t willing to share that with other people, I wasn’t willing to normalise it.
“Now that I have started speaking about it, I have realised that it is normal and that so many people are struggling in some way.”
Cate Campbell is an ambassador for WayAhead’s Mental Health Month. Visit the WayAhead website by clicking here.
If you or anyone you know needs immediate support, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or via lifeline.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.
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Originally published as https://wwos.nine.com.au/swimming/cate-campbell-reveals-mental-health-battle-prior-to-tokyo-olympics-triumph-news/7dfa3b3a-bb96-4d1d-a9a0-696cf4075e3d