“Everyone is going through some form of adversity and mental health doesn’t discriminate,” admits Michelle McMahon. McMahon, a sports broadcaster, is a former University of Michigan volleyball player. She also currently hosts a podcast, The Michelle McMahon Show, in which she speaks on self-confidence and mental health advocacy with her guests. “Each episode, Michelle brings you captivating interviews with thought leaders and experts around sports and beyond to help shift your inner dialogue, uplift your spirit, help you see yourself more clearly, and ultimately promote healing though the gift of self-awareness,” says the podcast’s description. “We are bombarded on a daily basis with messaging of why we aren’t enough, ways we need to change our bodies to be accepted, ways we need to act to be accepted, how to live a ‘perfect’ life…None if it is true,” says McMahon. “What’s true lies within each individual.”
McMahon started playing sports young, with soccer beginning while she was 4 years old. She admits part of her introduction to sports was because of her older brother. After soccer, McMahon played tennis and most notably volleyball, which led her to the University of Michigan’s Division I program. At Michigan, McMahon earned a degree in Communications and a minor in Spanish.
As an athlete, McMahon describes her experiences as “well-rounded.” She had both great and “not so great” coaches growing up, much like every athlete does. For McMahon, however, she stood out on the athletic field. She calls sports up until high school “a breeze,” and admits that much of her self-confidence then came from her athletic achievements. This is both a positive and a negative, which McMahon discovered. She acknowledges that college was most likely the time where her “mental health problems were born,” saying she felt “invisible at times in college.” She even goes as far to say that her athletic college experience was “fairly traumatizing.” Add in the fact that she was extremely hard on herself, plus some mistreatment, and the perfect storm was created. “There seems to be a culture of bullying that can brew behind closed doors,” McMahon says. Despite these struggles in college, McMahon found her silver lining in a mentor and sports counselor, Greg Harden. “[He] turned out to be the biggest blessing in life,” McMahon says.
Harden was “the kind of counselor that had a sixth sense of intuition [and] knowing exactly how I was feeling [and] what I needed to hear,” says McMahon. “He truly saw me and heard me, and also held space for me to have my break downs.” During these break downs, McMahon was able to fully express her emotions, and then turn those emotions into fueling an “empowering mindset.” Harden helped McMahon “reframe [her] belief system” and give her the confidence to move forward. Before meeting Harden, McMahon says she was “at a very low point mentally. My confidence was shook, my self-worth didn’t exist, and I believed some of the stories that I was told about myself that weren’t true.” Harden helped her change that, and more. He was so influential in McMahon’s life that she decided to create a podcast dedicated to him. McMahon’s podcast is titled The Michelle McMahon Show. You can find it most places you listen to podcasts.
While McMahon says that mental health was mostly misunderstood by her coaches, she has vowed to make a change by making mental health a priority in her own life. She knows that practicing mental health care doesn’t mean you’re weak. Instead, she makes self-care a priority. She checks in with how she’s feeling and adapts her routine to what she needs. It might be yoga, Epsom salt baths, or even an Infrared Sauna. Some days it consists of journaling, meditation, or breath work. Other days, she attends talk therapy, readings with her medium, or with an astrologist. Whatever McMahon’s mind and body needs, she makes sure to nurture it because, she admits, “we live in a time where it is no longer acceptable to stigmatize therapy [or] counseling.” If these things fail, McMahon knows she can lead on her “circle of mentors” or her golden retriever, that is an emotional support animal.
Looking back, McMahon wishes that she knew she wasn’t alone. She also says that if she could give her younger self a bit of advice, it’d be to “show yourself grace through this process, be kinder to yourself, and listen to how you’re talking to yourself.” She warns that mental illness can turn into physical illness “if you’re not careful.” She also urges others to “commit to the little things that bring joy and go back to the basics.” These things have brought her happiness, and she wishes the same for others who may be going through a similar situation.
What does “normal” mean to Michelle McMahon?
“I don’t know if I can answer this in a conventional way because I don’t think ‘normal’ exists. I think the human condition is so dynamic and complex and that human beings are so complicated, deep, and complex that it’s hard for me to define what ‘normal’ is. The ‘normal’ I’m striving for is a life full of freedom and inner peace…anything outside of that is out of alignm