People in certain jobs and lifestyles should somehow be immune to mental health issues. This is the misconception expertly addressed by Olympic diver Ollie Dingley, who explained his struggles with anxiety and his tenacious attitude to overcoming an illness that threatened to undermine his life.
In an interview with OTB AM's Eoin Sheahan, Ollie was eloquent and clear in the struggles that he found during competition in Rio, life afterwards and in moving into a new phase at college. But his life has been glittered with athletic success due to a tenacity that he also brought to his recovery.
"It is great for me to be in [the competitive] environment now, where I feel comfortable in that environment. I think college has had a big part to play - I felt very uncomfortable being in that environment with those divers, and the same with college.
"Last year, I really had a problem with anxiety. With college, I - pardon the pun - really dived headfirst into it. Being amongst those uncomfortable experiences, I felt that really helped me come out of my shell.
"I get very nervous. Especially after the Olympics - I was really hit by anxiety and I would have periods where I wouldn't go to the shops sometimes because I got a bit too nervous with all these people around me. "
Ollie was clear as to why the symptoms were emerging, which will hopefully prove a signpost for those a little less familiar with the insidious ways that mental health issues can take hold.
"The trigger for it was that I was not too well after the Olympics, and I fainted. That was the trigger, because I fainted in public. I found it really hard to come back from that. So you can imagine going into college! I remember being sat there on the first day of college, right at the back of the room, as close to the exit that I could possibly get to.
"But college has really helped me come out of my shell - even socialising. Not going on nights out, but just going out for a Coke with my mates, and it is pushing myself into those uncomfortable situations that have become comfortable and become the norm. That has really helped in my diving the last year."
Ollie paints the picture of a man who slowly walked a path that became steadily darker as it wound. Thankfully, his approach and support network allowed him to turn things around.
"I went through a stage where I was standing on the diving board and my hands were [shaking uncontrollably]. It really is terrifying, and I found general life experiences terrifying, like going to the shops. It's nice to come out of that and it has impacted on my diving - that extra bit of confidence; something extra is there and it has really helped me come out of my shell, and in the diving world as well."
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