When did you first realize that you were struggling?
In high school, my dad lost the health club he owned, and it became a huge financial strain on my parents to get me to the point where I needed to be as a mogul skier. As it got harder on them, it started to make me feel bad, and that started getting in the way of my Olympic dreams. Eventually, I needed to walk away from the sport. When something you’ve been doing for more than half of your life is over, that was a hard adjustment. I had a lot of years where I was lost. I didn’t have a goal.
Then in my early 20s, I got the opportunity to go to the Himalayas on this NOLS course. I really liked mountaineering and wanted to get into that. At the time I was dating somebody, and when I came back, he had a new girlfriend, and I didn’t know where I was going to live. I was in a place of nothing. Everything just got overwhelming. That was the first time I attempted suicide. I fell apart. I then felt so ashamed, I wanted to sweep it under the rug. All I could think about was what everybody else thought instead of making myself better.
What was it like for you after that?
I had a five-year period where it wasn’t always really bad, but it was never great. I was doing this bike ride from Seattle to San Diego with a group of people to raise money. Every morning I woke up feeling like I should be really happy, but I was miserable. I didn’t tell anyone. I always thought it was a weakness.
I ended up attempting suicide a second time. I was in the hospital and at the point where I knew I couldn’t do this on my own. I found someone to talk to who really understood what my passion was, and that really helped. I tried antidepressants, but they only made me feel numb. It was therapy, getting outside, and changing my whole mindset that flipped the switch.
Were your parents supportive of you growing up?
Yes. My mom was never into sports herself, but she was at every event. My dad was a former pro football player, and he was invested in developing me as an athlete. He was quite harsh. In hindsight, I wish I had taken more of my father’s advice so I could have become a better athlete than I am today. I won every contest I entered, but he never congratulated me. He said, “What can we do to make it better next time?” I realize now, as an older athlete, that those were the sacrifices you have to make.