Titus Young on living with bipolar disorder
“Hearing voices is no joke, it’s actually very scary. I feel like someone is trying to come kill me.” This is an excerpt from the diary of ex-football player Titus Young, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, sent to prison due to “altercations and worrisome behavior”, and was subsequently taken away from the game he has loved all his life. Despite all odds, Young still believes that he could play the National Football League (NFL).
Picked by the Detroit Lions in the second round of NFL Draft in 2011, the former NFL and Boise State Wide receiver Young has been in and out of trouble with the law, months after his release from the team. Currently serving a sentence in a Los Angeles prison since his April 2017 sentencing, the star footballer has shared excerpts from his 141-page diary that he wrote while spending his days in a lockdown. In the diary, Young wrote about the sport, his mental illness and on trying to become a better father to his son.
What led to the disintegration of his once-promising career with the Lions were a series of altercations. In 2013, Young accumulated at least 25 criminal charges, including those involving assault or battery cases. He could not play football and bounced between treatment facilities, courtrooms and jails.
Bipolar disorder or CTE?
Post his release from the NFL, Young was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at a UCLA neuropsychiatric hospital. But just like many patients suffering from a mental health disorder, Young refused to believe that he had one. In his diary, he mentioned that during his first diagnosis, he did not want to acknowledge the seriousness of the condition. He felt his life was “too perfect to have bipolar.” What added to the denial was the belief that football players were macho and that they never take medicines. He wanted to be put back on the field and allowed to play. While he is not sure what caused his illness, having bipolar had pretty much “torn down” his life.
While Young is open about his mental illness, there has been some debate whether his illness had anything to do with the brain trauma that he suffered during his football days. As per a psychologist at the Crosby Center, where Young was ordered to receive treatment after punching his attorney, his mental illness was a misdiagnosis, and the young footballer instead suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a worsening brain ailment found in individuals with a history of repetitive trauma to the brain or hits to the head sustained over a period of years. The symptoms occur as early as 17 years and affect mood and behavior, leading to depression, aggression and paranoia.
In 2013, Young’s father Richard Young disclosed his son’s mental health illness to the media and blamed it on a concussion that his son suffered in 2011. He also stated that his son was not dealing with the illness the way he should be and that a court order may give him the time to get the help that he needs. Some of Young’s fellow NFL teammates also expressed their concern.
Hopes and dreams
The diary that Young started writing in early 2017 sheds light on Young’s mental health struggles. He wrote about “hearing voices” that made him do the stuff out of control. He also talked about his experiences living with the illness. He poured his heart out in admitting his mistakes and being “a little ashamed of being Titus Young.”
Started in February 2017, the diary took two months to complete. Young stated that God was still great behind the bars as being locked up gave Young a chance to share his side of his story which has been mostly negative. He also mentioned his desire “to be free” and stated his belief that God has a plan for him “to dominate the NFL”. He is currently eligible for a parole hearing in March 2018.
Recovery is possible
Mental health disorders carry a stigma that is often tied to weakness, the opposite of what professional athletes want to portray. While a physical injury is often addressed immediately and involves a team of trainers, physiotherapists and doctors working together for the athlete’s speedy recovery, mental illness in sports is often overlooked leaving a sportsperson unsure of where to turn for help. It is important to keep the communication channels open and make mental health stigma-free.
If you know someone struggling with a mental illness, it’s time to get them professional support. At the Recover Mental Health, we can help you find the finest rehab for men in the country where therapeutic programs are offered in a safe and secure environment. Call us at our 24/7 helpline (866) 593-2339 or chat online with a representative to find credible men’s rehab centers for mental health disorders near you.