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Raven Saunders, American Shotputter has become the viral sensation of Tokyo Olympics 2020. With purple and green hair and a grinning joker mask, Saunders's story is really inspiring. Born on 15 May 1996, has won a silver medal in the Tokyo Olympics 2020. But do you know there was a time when Saunders was surrounded by suicidal thoughts?
It was in January 2016, when Saunders finished fifth in the Rio Olympics. Her residents in Charleston were quite proud of her and they gave her a warm welcome. In fact, the Mayor of Charleston had declared 17 August 2016 as the 'Raven Saunders Day' and threw a warm parade in her honour.
But people were unaware of the difficulties going on in her life. Her financial condition was not sound and her school life wasn't easy for her. With injuries piling up and performances going awry, Saunders was disappointed. She shared her thoughts to WMC Action News, "I was young, I was black and I was gay. Just moved to Mississippi."
"There was a lot of stigma and things like that around certain stuff. I really felt like there was no outlet for me. Track was like an outlet, but it was only so much. Especially mentally when you're going home and having to deal with it. It started weighing on me a lot that year," she added further.
One January morning, when she was supposed to drive to get to the campus, she didn't feel good. She recalled the day and shared the same to The Post and Courier, "I knew I had to be somewhere, but I just rolled past campus and kept driving and driving. I was in a daze, and I could tell something was very off. I just felt like I was in over my head. I was probably about 10 or 15 minutes from trying to end my life."
During that moment, she thought of her therapist and decided to speak with her. However, before this, she wasn't in touch with her therapist for over six months. But in her weak moment, she texted her. "I wanted to let somebody know what was going on, so I texted her that I was afraid and that I didn't know what I was going to do to myself," Saunders mentioned.
As soon as Sauders sent a text, the therapist asked her to check on her mental health. She was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrome, anxiety and depression. Saunders' mother and coach were oblivious to the traumas she was going through. A month later, she dropped out from her school.
While talking to The Post and Courier, she told further, "As I was going through it, I didn't want to feel like a bother to the people that I love. You know people are going through their own things, and you feel like a burden." "You don't want to put your things on other people. I tried to get through it and handle it on my own, and you think it's not that bad until it is that bad," she mentioned further.
In 2019, she wasn't competing enough but from 2020, she has been giving her best.
In order to keep herself positive and motivated, she practices meditation and spends most of her time at the training centre. She said, "Being out here at the training center, I'm around really positive people. We've got Olympians, gold medalists and athletes like that. And with my closest friends, I'm trying to be more vocal about what I'm going through, asking them to check up on me and just trying to be more open about what I'm struggling with."
Today Raven Saunders is a proud member of the LGBTQ community. She opens tweets about mental health and LGBTQ issues.