Herschel Walker, Heisman Trophy winner and University of Georgia football legend, is speaking out about his personal battle with mental illness. He revealed that he has suffered from dissociative identity disorder, commonly known as multiple personality disorder. Walker, hailed as one of the best football players ever, says he is grateful that his high-profile career has given him the opportunity to advocate for greater awareness of mental health issues.
"If I had not gotten help, I would have killed myself," Walker recently said at an event in Athens, Georgia, as reported by The Kansas City Star. "I didn't like who I was. I'd get angry over nothing. It got so intense that I thought, 'I could really injure somebody.'"
Walker has shared that he traces his mental health issues back to childhood, when he was bullied by other children and marginalized by teachers because of a speech impediment. In the eighth grade, he remembers being beaten by another student, prompting him to start a rigorous physical training program. As an adult, Walker had to undergo intensive psychotherapy to resolve these past traumas, according to ESPN.
Now Walker is an outspoken advocate for greater awareness of mental health issues in the United States. He says he wants to destigmatize the struggles of people like himself, and he is particularly intent on urging members of the military to seek help when they need it. Walker says he also wants more young people to proactively pursue mental health treatment in the hope that such a shift will cut down on violence in American schools. At regular speaking engagements, he tells audiences that there is no shame in seeking professional assistance.
At Fairwinds Treatment Center we have long believed that trauma can trigger or exacerbate mental illness, substance abuse issues, addictions and eating disorders. While Walker's personal struggle was with dissociate identity disorder, another person in his shoes might have found himself battling alcoholism or drug addiction. Yet another could have succumbed to compulsive eating patterns. Trauma, especially that sustained in childhood, can leave a lasting mark. Trauma may have been caused by a single event, like a rape, death, accident or natural disaster, or it may stem from an ongoing, stressful situation, such as being bullied by classmates or teachers or abused by a parent or spouse.
Individuals who have experienced traumatic events need to be treated for their mental health problems, substance addictions, eating compulsions and the experiences that caused these issues to surface. Otherwise, recovery is unlikely to be successful. Our Dual Diagnosis treatment system helps patients address and improve their symptoms while also helping them find constructive ways to deal with lingering emotions related to trauma. Therapeutic counseling is a vital part of achieving a lasting recovery.
Dr. M.K. (Khal) El-Yousef founded Fairwinds Treatment Center in 1989 with the express purpose of providing patients with a network of support to confront and overcome mental illness. At our center in Clearwater, Florida, we address illnesses such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and obsessive compulsive disorder. These problems often go undiagnosed among people battling addiction and/or eating disorders. Diagnosing them correctly helps pave the way for complete and lasting recovery.
If you or a loved one suffered trauma and are battling addiction, contact Fairwinds Treatment Center today. We have inpatient and outpatient options available and are highly experienced in helping people along the road to recovery.