Ep. 3: Chamique Holdsclaw

March 20, 2020
Chamique HoldsclawChamique Holdsclaw

She's one of the greatest basketball players of all time. She was a three-time national champion in college and later starred in the WNBA. But Chamique Holdsclaw has struggled with mental health problems and bipolar disorder. She tells her story and explains how she wants to help others think differently about mental health.

Transcript:

Vic Vela:
Hey, just a heads up that this episode includes some graphic talk about suicide. If you're having thoughts about it, help is available at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or text "home" to 741741.

Vic Vela:
In three, two, one.

Announcer:
From the streets of New York to the hills of Tennessee, there has been one constant in Chamique Holdsclaw's life: championships. Sixth consecutive [crosstalk 00:00:28]

Vic Vela:
It's 1998 and this game is the only thing standing between the University of Tennessee Lady Volunteers and an undefeated season. And at the center of that amazing team …

Announcer:
… Holdsclaw, right move inside. Holdsclaw has 18 points in the first half …

Vic Vela:
Tennessee fans were standing in their seats celebrating long before the final buzzer.

Announcer:
And that's it. The Lady Volunteers, the first team ever to go 39 and 0. They have won their [crosstalk 00:01:02] …

Vic Vela:
Chamique fed off the energy she would get inside those arenas. But behind the scenes, away from the cheering crowds and all the media attention, life was very different for her. She was plagued by something darker, something more complicated.

Vic Vela:
Can you guys hear me over there?

Chamique Holdsclaw:
Is that better? Yes, that's better.

Vic Vela:
Hi, Chamique.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
Hey, how are you?

Vic Vela:
I'm doing well. Thank you so much.

Vic Vela:
Something was going on that even her closest teammates didn't know about.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
Whoever's knows me knows haha, she's really silly and likes to have a good time, keeps everybody loose. I look back now and I'm like, wow, I was really operating … It was almost like two different people.

Vic Vela:
I'm Vic Vela. I'm a journalist, a storyteller and a recovering drug addict and this is Back from Broken from Colorado Public Radio. Stories about the highest highs, the darkest moments and what it takes to make a comeback.

Vic Vela:
Today we're talking with basketball great Chamique Holdsclaw about mental health and the kind of recovery that happens behind the scenes even when your life unfolds on national television. Chamique grew up in New York in a quiet, middle-class neighborhood.

Vic Vela:
It was a loving family, she says, but her parents had trouble with alcohol. Things got really tough fast. One time her father passed out and locked her out of the house and the police intervened.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
I just remember I was like 10 or 11 and I heard the police say, "Oh, this environment is … These kids can't stay here. This is unstable." And I remember being carted off to the police station and being asked all kinds of questions: Does this happen often? Do your parents hit you? All these questions.

Vic Vela:
Chamique was sent to live with her Grandma June in a very different neighborhood in the middle of the city. Suddenly Chamique found herself in the housing projects of Astoria, away from her parents and friends.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
I was feeling a lot of confusion, of course, and a lot of anger because I was a kid. I grew up in one environment. It was like middle class; I was comfortable. I knew the friends that I went to school with.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
You just learn to cope in those type of situations. And when I say cope, like cope with a dysfunctional household, it became normal in a sense. Now here I am going to a totally different environment.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
I was bullied, teased, dealing with the young kid stuff, basically, on top of that. Just this sadness because I miss my parents, this anger because I'm like, why did they let this happen?

Chamique Holdsclaw:
It is hard, those times when your parents are … It's like a movie. I'm the kid really like, oh man, my parents are coming for the weekend. And you have your backpack, you're waiting. That 15 minutes pass, "Oh, Grandma. Grandma, you said they were coming at 2:00." Then it's 3:00, then it's 4:00. It's like, okay, they're not coming.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
That really starts to affect you. You feel like, am I not worthy of this? Why isn't my family normal? You look at the shows you watch at that time on television, from the What's Happening to Family Ties and The Cosby Show, and you think, all right, this is what a family is supposed to be and it's supposed to operate like this.

Vic Vela:
That's heartbreaking. Chamique, what did your anger look like at this time? How did it play out?

Chamique Holdsclaw:
I had different phases when I first moved in with my grandmother. She knew that something wasn't right. I wanted to wear the dark colors, the temper tantrums. She could feel my moods.

Vic Vela:
How did your grandma put you on a better path?

Chamique Holdsclaw:
My grandmother was really rooted and she's gave us stability, discipline and a lot of love and support. I remember, I could cook and I could do things and she's saying, "No, while you're here you have to learn to be a child."

Vic Vela:
Okay.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
My grandmother led the homeless mission at church. She was Sunday school teacher. So I just had a really great role model in her. But she was tough. She was also very tough on me, but a tough love.

Vic Vela:
Sure. All that's missing was a cape, right? She sounds like Superwoman.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
Right.

Vic Vela:
Chamique desperately needed calm and stability and with Grandma June she got it. Her grandma encouraged Chamique to get into activities and there were basketball courts right outside her house where June could keep an eye on Chamique from the window.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
I played with the guys because of the fact that there was probably no girl basketball teams. I grew up before the whole girl power movement, so I just remember being one of the guys, going out there playing, being the only girl on the team.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
But it was always, I guess, something special about me. Even when I played, I was better than them. Now I look back, it's almost like the thing that fed my soul, and I put a lot of time and energy into it.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
I remember my grandmother saying things like, "You have a lot of anger in you. Take out your anger, frustrations out there in the court, because you can't have those behaviors and outbursts in this neighborhood. You just never know. Someone may hurt you or want to fight with you."

Chamique Holdsclaw:
So that was my quiet space. And when I was out there it's like I didn't have thoughts about anything negative. It was just like this, I was floating.

Vic Vela:
It didn't take very long for Chamique to skyrocket from those Astoria projects to become a New York State champion with her high school team four years in a row. And college coaches sure noticed.

Vic Vela:
They didn't know about the emotions that drove Chamique to play so hard. They just saw an athlete and a winner. Chamique had her choice of schools, and one coach in particular stood out.

Announcer:
She's been called a pioneer, a motivator, a winner. But to the Tennessee faithful, she's just Coach. In her nearly 40 years at Tennessee, Coach Summit has elevated women's basketball to the national stage. [crosstalk 00:07:40] …

Vic Vela:
Chamique knew who Pat Summit was, but what really won her over was that Grandma June liked Summit too.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
And she knows she did the best handoff ever.

Vic Vela:
No kidding, right?

Chamique Holdsclaw:
To Coach Summit. And very similar in the way that they operated, the discipline and just the life lessons. My grandmother trusted her with me. My grandmother felt this connection and it's one of the best decisions that I made. Because yes, she pushed me as an athlete, but also to be the best woman that I can be.

Vic Vela:
Chamique became a rock star at Tennessee, a legend. Under Pat Summit's wing, she racked up title after title. She became the school's all-time leading scorer and rebounder for both women and men. Knoxville even named a street after her.

Vic Vela:
Chamique became a household name. Girls all over the country were really looking up to her. She felt a responsibility to be a certain way in public. But even then, she didn't think the fans knew the real person she was inside.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
I love playing the game of basketball, but it was not who I was, you know?

Vic Vela:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chamique Holdsclaw:
I just wanted to go do my job and go back to the dorm or do my work, hang out with my friends. It was just kind of hard, having to, in a public eye, live up to that, always be on, when I was really laid back.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
I never understood why people wanted my autograph. I mean, I kind of knew because of the amazing things out there on the court. But a lot of people don't identify with a grown woman and grown man coming up to you hands shaking. And I'm like, wow, they're shaking for me and I'm just like, I'm shy. I'm nervous that they're coming up to me.

Vic Vela:
Well, and Chamique at this time, all these incredible things going on around your life. During this time, you got a call from your grandma that your dad was in a mental institution.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Vic Vela:
He was diagnosed with schizophrenia. What do you remember about that phone call?

Chamique Holdsclaw:
I remember probably just sinking back to the back of the room. I was like, "What?" And I had that aha moment of understanding, because I just remember my dad having full-on conversations with himself.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
I remember a situation that for him to tell us like, "I'm going to chop you guys up and throw you down an incinerator." I remember my mom being so scared and me just like, wow, just all makes sense. Like, oh man, he's really sick.

Vic Vela:
I mean, I couldn't imagine what that was like for you to process.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
I couldn't sleep a lot. Just to feel motivated, to stay on task, I was going to class. I was like, dread it. I felt a little isolation. I would isolate myself from my teammates at times.

Vic Vela:
Did you, Chamique, ever worry about what his diagnosis meant for you?

Chamique Holdsclaw:
I did because I was searching, like why am I feeling like this? And as I started to really peel back those layers, I'd think, oh my god, am I like my dad? Is it that whole "Tag, you're it"?

Vic Vela:
It was especially hard for Chamique to deal with all those emotions, being so much in the public eye as an elite athlete. Well, you were suffering with severe depression. Tell me what did that look like?

Chamique Holdsclaw:
You just shut down. You just protect certain parts of you so you're not really open. Some people are a little forgiving. They chalk it up when you're young up to certain things: Oh, my gosh, she's just stressed. All this pressure. Being away from home, as most college students can experience that when they go away to school. People start to make excuses to you because of that inconsistent behavior.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
When I finally talked to Coach Summit about what I was experiencing and she agreed to let me go off campus for help. You hear the words "off campus" because these high-level college teams are equipped with sports psychologists that you can talk to.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
But because of the stigma, I was afraid to talk with the woman who worked with our team, because I thought my teammates were going to think that I was mentally weak or if I had these issues.

Vic Vela:
The thing that really jumped out at me, Chamique, when you're talking about this is you talk about the stigma and weakness.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Vic Vela:
And you're this athlete playing for a Division 1 school and winning all these titles. Did you think something in your head was telling you that you were weak if you opened up about this stuff?

Chamique Holdsclaw:
Oh, definitely. I mean, in my household we didn't really talk about these things growing up. And when you overcome, when you're people who overcome and you put your head down and you do the work. You just carry that, like, oh, I'm all right. I can get through this.

Vic Vela:
Yeah, tough it out.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
Yeah, for me, my get-through was athletics, but we know that's really not going to be something as we're adults now that's really sustainable. So again, I start going to therapy. It was amazing.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
I'm working through some things. The energy's coming back. I'm focused on school. I'm being taught skills, skills that are helping me.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
The next thing I know it was my sixth. I always remember that, that sixth visit. And I just remember, and I've only had seen this in the movies. We all know the window [inaudible 00:13:37] with the dolls and then they want to pry into your childhood.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
That's what I walked in there that day and she's like, "Oh, you see those dolls? We all have a childlike person inside of us."

Vic Vela:
Yeah.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
She's like, "Today we're going to really talk about your parents and your emotions." And honestly, I shut down. Again that wall. It made me uncomfortable.

Vic Vela:
So you carried that weight with you during all of college because you just weren't ready to open up to someone.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
I never went back as a collegian athlete. And Coach Summit, she would check. "Oh, I'm fine, I'm great."

Chamique Holdsclaw:
The basketball's the easy part. I constantly tell people, man, I could just go perform. And that was probably when I was my happiest and that's when I could think clearly.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
But still that pit in my stomach, those thoughts. Like that crafty little creature on my shoulder telling me that I'm not worthy. It got really worse and worse.

Vic Vela:
But if you were just a fan of the games, you would never know it. Chamique's career kept taking off. She became the overall number one pick in the WMBA draft. She was Rookie of the Year and she even won an Olympic Gold Medal.

Announcer:
We love the WMBA.

Announcer:
… Young and Chamique Holdsclaw. She is the future of the game. She has lived up from all the …

Announcer:
… and forward from the Washington Mystics, Queens, New York native, Chamique Holdsclaw.

Vic Vela:
This time something really significant happened in your life. It was around 2002. Your grandma, your rock, died.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Vic Vela:
How did you respond to her death?

Chamique Holdsclaw:
I remember it like it was yesterday. No one wanted to tell me that she had already died, because they just thought that would just be a shock. So I got there and I remember my mother called me into my grandma's room. You walk in, all my family's there and just like grandma passed away in her sleep and heart attack.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
I just remember sitting there crying. And it's like I cry, I cry. And then by the time I left that room, I just put on that brave face. I always tell people I buried my grandmother and I buried my emotions. I never grieved. That was the thing. I buried her; two days later I was back on the basketball court.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
I remember waking up in a sweat because in my dream she told me, "Chamique, Chamique, you have to let me go. I'm okay." I always liken it to a bag and if you continually stuff it, stuff it, eventually that bag is going to overflow; there's no more space. And that's what happened to me. It really hit me.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
They said I was missing for like three days, but I was at my house and just pretty much in the dark. I remember that and just having severe suicide ideation. I had planned my perfect exit from this world. And my friends told me, "Man, you are all over ESPN. You're missing in action."

Chamique Holdsclaw:
I'm a big star at this time in DC and it's during my season. I just think I was just really in a dark place. The mania, this operating in a different space, really detached.

Vic Vela:
Pat Summit flew in to try and talk to her, but no one could get Chamique out of her house. Eventually, a friend who had a key was able to go in and convince Chamique to talk to a psychiatrist.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
I remember the psychiatrist telling me, "You're suicidal."

Vic Vela:
Okay.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
"We have to stabilize you." And I just remember I just jumped up by a chair and I'm going off on the lady. Like, "How the hell can you tell me that? You don't know me? So I'm going to sit here in this chair and you're going to tell me, you met me for the first time, that I'm suicidal."

Chamique Holdsclaw:
I said, "I don't believe that." I was like, "Oh, my god, this is some-

Vic Vela:
Yeah, you really had some walls up.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
… Ryan, this is some BS. You're all crazy. You're just trying to put me into a mental institution or something. You're selfish." I'm going off and then she tells me I have to take this medication or whatever.

Vic Vela:
Well, let me ask you then, Chamique, it was at this time that you were diagnosed with clinical depression and you started medications. Did you embrace this diagnosis? I know you were upset at first, but did it settle in eventually?

Chamique Holdsclaw:
Yeah, it settled in a little bit, but there was still a lot of confusion.

Vic Vela:
Mmm.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
All right, if you have addiction … My parents were struggling with addiction. Even though my grandma got me help, but you know now that affects your mental health. Sometimes it's bad mental health issues, emotional, bipolar, different things that trigger people to have addiction issues and things like that.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
But we just never talked about that. I wish we would've discussed these things in my household. So now I'm having these things pop up, these feelings, these emotions, and I'm getting really on a defensive about them.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
I wanted to always make good decisions and be a leader. And here I am now on the flip side of that, having my own personal challenges and not having the skillset to understand them. It was just really a tough time for me.

Vic Vela:
What was going on in Chamique's life and what the basketball-viewing public knew were two totally different things. Aside from some confusion about the missed practices, only the people closest to her really knew what was going on.

Vic Vela:
From there, things were up and down for Chamique for a little while. The medication seemed to work, and she says she got therapy through her new team in the WMBA, the Los Angeles Sparks.

Vic Vela:
But then she stopped taking her meds. And after a trip home to see her father, Chamique's suicidal thoughts turned into action. She attempted to take her life. A friend found her and got her to a doctor where she started thinking.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
I sat there and it's like I had that thought, "I can't be the only one going through this."

Vic Vela:
Yeah.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
And after that, it's forced me to share, disclose what was going on.

Vic Vela:
Chamique opened up to the public, to her fans. The response was really supportive. She got letters from fans all over talking about how they've struggled too.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
I would read some of the letters and it gave me a little bit of, well, it gave me hope, because I felt really hopeless before that. I felt finally like I mattered. Like the athlete kicked in: I could get through this,

Vic Vela:
But Chamique wasn't out of the woods. After we take a break, the incident that finally broke her out of her spiral. And why today she largely stays away from the thing that had always been her escape: basketball.

Vic Vela:
From a really young age, Chamique Holdsclaw found peace on the basketball court. But after retiring from basketball in 2010, she often had to spend a lot of time just sitting alone without the game that provided her a distraction from her problems her entire life. After a couple of years of not being on the court, she could feel herself drifting into mania again, and in the midst of that mania, she found herself in Atlanta trying to get in touch with her ex-girlfriend. She needed help and didn't know where else to turn. What happened next-

Speaker 2:
This is the Atlanta police department 9-1-1.

Vic Vela:
… turned out to be one of the darkest moments of her life.

Speaker 3:
A woman just actually tried to destroy my friend's Range Rover.

Speaker 2:
And the person who did this, are they still there?

Speaker 3:
No, she drove away. Her name is Chamique Holdsclaw. She's a basketball player. She's mentally unstable.

Speaker 9:
Police say Lacy called a friend after she noticed her car smelled like gasoline and realize Holdsclaw was following her. Lacey then drove over to a friend's house, but when she got there-

Chamique Holdsclaw:
I just remember following my friend at the time in my truck, and when they pulled up to a house or a place of business, I-

Speaker 9:
Holdsclaw allegedly went on the attack bashing in the windows of Lacy's Range Rover with a baseball bat while she was still inside and then the violence escalated.

Vic Vela:
Chamique used a baseball bat. Then she pulled out a gun.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
I hopped out and I basically fired my personal weapon through the back of the individual's truck.

Speaker 9:
Now Lacy wasn't hurt in the attack and has released a statement through her team, the Tulsa Shock.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
I really just was off the cuff. I wasn't really angry at anyone. It was just a total emotional collapse. When it happened, it just was like, oh wow. I didn't feel the same emotions that I feel now having full understandings. It's like you're operating in a different realm, and it's like I'm trying to get back grounded. But at the same time, my phone was ringing it, and I see that gun, the 9mm in the passenger's seat, and only thing I wanted to think about is putting it to my head and pulling the trigger. And I'm profusely crying-

Vic Vela:
Oh my gosh, Chamique.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
And one of my friends is like, "Just go, just go home. Just go home. I'm going to meet you there." And they said I walked in and I was just like, "You know, oh I better call the police."

Chamique Holdsclaw:
Like they said, it was just like they didn't even recognize me. They said I was just like, "Oh I've got to call the police and tell them that I did something bad." And that's something that I've had to live with and that's really why I don't like talking about it because it's a thing that triggers a lot of emotions because I didn't want to hurt anybody. I didn't understand what was going on.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
And I had gone through a lot of emotional stuff and been severely depressed, my anxiety, all these things. I can go back and I can understand why they happen. This I can't understand why this happened.

Speaker 5:
Superior Court of Fulton County, Atlanta Judicial Circuit is now in session.

Vic Vela:
That incident was all over the news and not just in Atlanta. No one was hurt, but Chamique pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced to three years probation and 120 hours of community service.

Speaker 6:
Aggravated assault, guilty or not guilty?

Chamique Holdsclaw:
Guilty.

Speaker 6:
Aggravated assault count two, guilty or not guilty?

Chamique Holdsclaw:
Guilty.

Speaker 6:
Criminal damage to property in the first degree, guilty or not guilty?

Chamique Holdsclaw:
Guilty.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
I wasn't worried about the whole legal stuff. I'm the type, like I said earlier, from Coach Summitt to my grandmother, you do something, you take responsibility for it. I knew it was hard. Going to court is hard. Having to deal with that publicly. That's something I can understand. That wasn't creating the distress. As much stress as it was trying to figure out who am I.

Vic Vela:
While Chamique was trying to answer that question, she was getting calls from all kinds of people in her life, including a former teammate from Tennessee who said that Pat Summitt saw the headlines and wanted Chamique to come see her.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
And she was like, "Man, you need to get up here and see her because she's worried about you." So once I kind of collected myself. I can't remember if it was a week or two or whatever, but I go to Knoxville, and we sit down, and we have a conversation and just talk life. And it was very eye opening because she said since I was younger, my grandmother and her used to have conversations and be worried about me. And the main thing was if I'm going to get back to being Chamique, the fun-loving Chamique, the happy, in a sense, Chamique. And I was going to have to do to work and get the help that I needed consistently.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
And her big thing was surrounding myself. She'd say, "Get rid, get rid, get rid of the people that are around you."

Vic Vela:
Delete those phone numbers, huh?

Chamique Holdsclaw:
Delete, delete, delete, and just basically deal with people that know your character. Those are going to be the ones to help you through. And she was very honest in her assessment, and I really took it to heart. I think about it even to this day because her and my grandmother are so much alike, and it would be something that my grandmother would tell me also. So I really took it to heart.

Vic Vela:
Chamique got a new diagnosis for what she had been feeling her whole life. She had bipolar disorder. All those episodes of frenetic highs and depressive lows, feeling like she wasn't in control of her actions. It all made sense now. She found a therapist that she really connected with, and that's something she says is key to success. And she started meditation and made a big effort to be mindful of her mental health at all times.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
We just chalked the whole mental piece to the side. This is what we do. It's that whole detachment. And now if you could control that no matter what you go through and learn to control your emotions and find things that create peace in your life, your perception changes. It just creates a different flow.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
I have to really take a step back because I know once I get in it, and once I know me and once I'm like, "Ah, let's just have fun. I don't care." That's when is this all bad. So for me it's just really trying to find balance. I can have fun. It's just that energy, that constant high will affect me, and it will drain me and then that come down is bad.

Vic Vela:
Well let me ask you, we've talked about Pat Summitt a lot, and she's obviously been such a crucial figure in your life. She died a few years ago. She was a motherly figure in your life. How did you deal with her loss?

Chamique Holdsclaw:
It was really tough for me. It really stung me in the heart. It was almost like that collapse feeling, but everybody was calling me to check on me, and I actually had worked really hard. So I had the skillset to actually deal with this.

Vic Vela:
Yeah, that's what I was going to ask you is because by this time, by the time she died, you were already had a few years of recovery under your belt. Did you think you had the tools to better help you deal with that?

Chamique Holdsclaw:
Oh, I really did. I had the tools. Okay, she had the private funeral, right? And then she had the public funeral, which ESPN covered, and it was open to all fans, all people. So you're talking about a 20,000 plus arena, right. So I knew for me I can go to the private one which was maybe 100 or so people, and I couldn't go to the public one because it would be too much stimulation.

Vic Vela:
It's just the fact that you know that, that you recognize that the bigger funeral would have been a tougher thing for you to deal with emotionally. And so let's just take it off the table. It's these kinds of tools that you didn't have for the longest time.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
Yep. You're right because the old me would have been trying to, like everybody was calling me, all my friends from college, because pretty much everybody was there, and it would've been me wanting to be a people pleaser and not putting myself first.

Vic Vela:
Chamique retired from basketball in 2010, and with her resume, there's plenty of opportunities for her to stay in the game as a coach or in a team's front office. But Chamique actually prefers to be away from the game of basketball right now. She lives a quiet life with her wife in Los Angeles. And that floating feeling she described when she was on the court, well now she prefers to stay grounded.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
People see me as a great basketball player, and they want me around the game, but I had to detach from that. I had to detach from that identity.

Vic Vela:
That's interesting.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
And I had to find my way. In finding my way, I realized that a lot of who my grandmother was is instilled in me and is really wanted to be on the ground. Really helping people is not just going around speaking about it, but my everyday life, like touching people.

Vic Vela:
Yeah.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
And that's just really important for me because that gives me life.

Chamique Holdsclaw:
I'm really just glad that I've just grown to this point, and I accept this. I really do accept it. It's a process, and I choose, I'm up to the challenge to attack it every day. I feel so good about the person that I am today and still I'm like, I'm a work in progress, but now I get it. My heart is full. I always say the color's back in my life. And so I just always say, "God, God, I'm 42 years old. Give me at least 30 more years like this."

Vic Vela:
Exactly. Chamique continues to work as a mental health advocate. She even recently launched her own podcast called Tremendous Upside where she talks mental health with fellow athletes.

Vic Vela:
Back from Broken is a show about how we're all broken sometimes and how we need help from time to time. If you're struggling with mental health issues, you can find a list of resources at our website, backfrombroken.org.

Brianna:
This is [Brianna 00:11:14] from Wheat Ridge, Colorado. This is what's going on in my recovery. I'm six and a half years sober from alcohol and just started going to Alcoholics Anonymous last year after celebrating my sixth year sober. I am so grateful to have finally joined a recovery program and have friends and a community of people that get me, support me, and help me.

Chelsea:
This is [Chelsea 00:11:34] calling from Lafayette, Indiana. In 2019, I went back to school and graduated from my master's program, and this year I am now five months pregnant. It has been a complete mind, body, and spirit transformation.

Vic Vela:
We'd love to hear how you're doing in your recovery, and we might share it on this podcast so everybody listening can give you a virtual pat on the back too. Record a voice memo or MP3 and send it to [email protected].

Vic Vela:
If you know someone who might benefit from stories like this, please share this podcast with them. We spent more than a year building this show, research, interviews, production, editing because we know it'll help people, but it does cost money. The people who listen to this podcast, people just like you make it a reality. You can give a little bit now at backfrombroken.org.

Vic Vela:
Back From Broken is hosted by me, Vic Vela. It's a production of Colorado Public Radio's Audio Innovation Studio and CPR News. Thanks to the people in recovery who helped develop this podcast. Ben, Matthew, Sean, and Matteo. Thank you so much for your guidance.

Vic Vela:
The show is produced by Rebekah Romberg, Jon Pinnow, and Matthew Simonson. Rachel Estabrook edited this episode. Our executive producers are Brad Turner and Kevin Dale. Music by Brad Turner and Daniel Mescher. Thanks also to Francie Swidler, Kim Nguyen, Hart Van Denburg, and Kevin Beatty. Please subscribe rate and review this show on Apple Podcasts. It really helps other people find it, and thanks for listening to Back From Broken.