Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams discusses mental health, football

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Heisman Trophy winner, Ricky Williams was in Houston supporting the Menninger Clinic. (KTRK)

Heisman Trophy winner, Ricky Williams was in Houston supporting the Menninger Clinic, which is one of the nations leading psychiatric hospitals.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and Williams talked about his struggle with social anxiety.

"So many people spend most of their life trying to avoid the pain or the darkness or the difficult times. But I've found on the other side life is amazing," said Williams.

It's been a journey for Williams, from the height of his Heisman fame at UT to the depths of confusion and pain.

Williams said, "It affected the way that I play football. It affected the way that I created relationships with my family and my friends and I got to the point that I needed to do something about this."

Early in his NFL career Williams kept his helmet on to talk to reporters. People called him eccentric, weird and worse. No one understood that he suffered from social anxiety disorder.

"Not knowing what to call it or not knowing what was going on was the toughest part. But I'm an athlete. I'm a warrior," said Williams.

So he tried to tough it out. Until he saw a commercial for the medication Paxil on TV. That led to therapy and the decision to walk away from football.

"As a football player it was projected on me where I fit and how I fit and it took courage on my part to walk away from the game and really get a better sense of who I was and where I fit," said Williams.

That fit now is an advocate for mental health. A father and a seeker of new experiences and truths. The worthwhile journey continues.

Some flowers of nature bloom really quickly. Some take a long time. And I think one of the things that I've learned through my process is to really appreciate human diversity," said Williams.

Related Topics:
sportsmental healthHouston
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