Out WNBA Veteran Chamique Holdsclaw On The Need To Speak Out About Mental Illness: “A Closed Mouth Does Not Get Fed”

Holdsclaw, who has battled bipolar disorder and depression, is speaking out during Mental Health Awareness Month.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and former WNBA player Chamique Holdsclaw is offering some heartfelt advice to her younger self.

Holdsclaw, profiled in Logo’s 2016 documentary Mind/Game, struggled for years with bipolar disorder and depression. After a violent incident with her ex-girlfriend and multiple suicide attempts, the out lesbian and former San Antonio Silver Stars forward rebounded, learning to manage her condition with medication and therapy. But her journey wasn’t without strife.

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“Being able to look in the mirror and say it: ’This is an illness that I have’… That was the hardest part,” she told NewNowNext. “Now, I’m just glad overall that my quality of life is just so much better.”

For Mental Health Awareness Month, Holdsclaw has teamed up with the Child Mind Institute, a nonprofit that helps children struggling with mental health and learning disorders.

As part of CMI’s #MyYoungerSelf campaign, Holdsclaw recorded a video in which she encourages herself and others who may be suffering from mental health issues to speak up and seek help:

I think it goes back to something that my grandmother used to tell me as a young kid: “A closed mouth does not get fed.” The thing is, people cannot read minds. And when I was going through some of my tough times, in regards to my mental health, I would internalize everything…

But finally, when it became too much, when I finally said, “Enough’s enough,” and started to share my journey and tell others, I realized I wasn’t the only one going through these things. And it has allowed me to form amazing allies, and an amazing support system of people that are also experiencing mental health issues. So never, never, never forget the power of your voice, and how healing it can be, just to open up, and to share.

Other participants in this year’s campaign include James Van Der Beek, who has dyslexia, and Sarah Silverman, who battles depression.

Brooklyn-based writer and editor. Probably drinking iced coffee or getting tattooed.