Lyndsey Fennelly had it all.
Full-ride scholarship to play college basketball. College All-American. National assist leader. Second-round draft pick by the WNBA’s Indiana Fever. PGC Course Director at 22.
But deep down, something wasn’t right.
After being hospitalized for fifteen days in 2013, Lyndsey came face-to-face with the reality she had a mental health condition.
“I didn’t want to accept it,” she said, “I was embarrassed by it, I ignored it, and I moved on. In the five years that followed, I had two children, built two businesses, and trained thousands of athletes. Little did I know, the perfect storm was waiting to strike again as I had a second significant breakdown and ended up in the hospital for 21 days in April 2018.”
Lyndsey felt the second breakdown was different than the first, maybe because she was older now and also a mother. It was eye-opening. This time, she finally accepted her condition, changed her approach, and faced it head-on.
Lyndsey has since made it her mission to share her story, create safe spaces for conversations, and inspire people to take action. “I felt I had to talk about mental health, “ she said. “It’s a genetic condition, first and foremost, and I wanted my kids to have as much information as possible about their mom or someone else who has it.”
She wants people to know that mental health problems don’t have to carry a stigma. “The whole reason I didn’t accept my condition the first time was because it was taboo to have a mental health condition.”
It’s why Lyndsey is committed to sharing her story with as many people as possible — to breed hope, inspire action, and let people know, “it’s okay not to be okay… just not forever.”
Lyndsey, who was a PGC director for four years, and credits PGC with having some of the greatest influence on her life, never forgot what longtime PGC owner Dena Evans taught her: “The more you talk about something, the more accountable you become to that thing. You can’t be the loudest in the locker room and the last one crossing the sprint line.”
Taking that advice, she immediately realized that, if she was going to be the loudest in the room in her community or nationwide, she had to practice what she preached — no skipping medication or being a no-show at therapy appointments.
Lyndsey maintained you must understand what good mental health is and then be aware of signs, symptoms, and problems that might emerge. Mental health issues can be anything from severe anxiety, stress in a sport, mounting pressure by coaches, parents, and others to excel. Left untreated, symptoms don’t go away and can lead to major, even tragic, results.
Lyndsey’s mission extends to talking about social media and its impact on mental health. Further, the instant feedback from social media apps and the constant attachment to technology, like cell phones, only seems to magnify the problem.
“We can tell a young person to get off their phone,” Lyndsey noted, “or show them by getting off the phones ourselves, demonstrating how powerful a connection to humans, not wifi, can be.
Recently, while shooting baskets with her five-year-old son Will, Lyndsey was reminded of this power. It was a game-changing moment.
“I had this incredibly pure and fun feeling inside, which was the best feeling I’ve had in years,” Lyndsey said. “My phone was on the sideline, there were no strings attached, and I wasn’t telling the world about it on social media. It was just me, my son, the ball, and an empty gym. That was special, and we all need more moments like this in our lives. True connection, no devices.”
PGC President and Owner, Mano Watsa, celebrated Lyndsey’s courage when she first publicly shared her challenges.
“I’m sad for her struggle, as no one should have to struggle alone,” he said, “yet I’m proud she went and got help, and proud of her willingness to share her story so others can benefit.”
Lyndsey no longer spends time hiding her mental health struggles because she knows who she is, understands the impact she can have, and feels compelled to create a platform for others to stand on.
She’s trained over 40,000 athletes, who’ve all benefited from her authenticity and ability to empower others to be better versions of themselves.
Lyndsey is a courageous woman, whose words and actions pierce the souls of the young and old, whose vulnerability is a gift to us all, whose advice helps us make better choices, whose very existence elevates those around her, and whose story will continue to impact the lives of thousands for years to come.
Keep an eye out for Lyndsey’s book coming sometime between 2020-2021.
By: Kyle Koszuta
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