“I’ve always been an extremely motivated person,” long distance athlete Alexi Pappas says. “And that mindset took me all the way to the Olympics.”
But that mentality did not prepare Pappas for what came next — “the biggest challenge” of her life.
In a video feature with The New York Times, the California native explains how she grappled with severe depression after competing for her ancestral homeland, Greece, in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“It began with sleeplessness. I couldn’t turn my mind off…” Pappas says. “I was so unprepared for this tremendous crash.”
The former NCAA All-American says that people told her to “snap out of it” and “be herself again” by continuing to push herself mentally and physically via training.
An average week saw Pappas with one hour of sleep per night and 120 miles of running under her belt — an unhealthy balance which inevitably took its toll and let to her clinical diagnosis for depression.
Pappas’ situation nearly led her to commit suicide — just as her own mother had done when she was four years old. But her father encouraged her to seek help and told her “We aren’t going to lose this time.”
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