Fish Lays Bare Fight With Crippling Anxiety Disorder
American brutally honest in article for The Players' Tribune
As he takes his final bow in professional tennis at the US Open, Mardy Fish has written a deeply moving and personal article for The Players’ Tribune, revealing how an anxiety disorder derailed his tennis career for almost three years.
Here is an excerpt from Fish’s submission (read the full feature at The Players’ Tribune):
I am hours away from playing in the biggest tennis match of my life: the fourth round of the U.S. Open … on Labor Day … on my dad’s birthday … on Arthur Ashe … on CBS … against Roger Federer. I am hours away from playing the greatest player of all time, for a chance at my best-ever result, in my favorite tournament in the world. I am hours away from playing the match that you work for, that you sacrifice for, for an entire career.
And I can’t do it.
I literally can’t do it.
It’s early afternoon; I’m in the transportation car on my way to the courts.
And I am having an anxiety attack.
Actually, I’m having several anxiety attacks — at first, one every 15 minutes or so, but pretty soon every 10. My mind starts spiraling. I’m just freaking out.
My wife is asking me, “What can we do? What can we do? How can we make this better?”
And I tell her the truth: “The only thing that makes me feel better right now … is the idea of not playing this match.”
She hesitates, and looks at me for a second, to make sure I’m serious. I am serious. This isn’t me thinking — this me reacting, feeling, trying to survive. She answers plainly. “Well, then, you shouldn’t play. You don’t have to play. Just … don’t play.”
My anxiety disorder started in 2012, during what should have been the high point of my career. I was at the end of a long road — a few years long — on which things really started to come together for me.
The Players’ Tribune was founded by baseball star Derek Jeter and publishes first-person stories directly from professional athletes from around the world.