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Lindsey Vonn Is Changing the Social Narrative of Mental Health in Sports

The alpine great is speaking out to show that you can be a strong, successful athlete and still struggle with depression.
Lindsey Vonn arrives at the Jason Wu runway show during New York Fashion Week.

Lindsey Vonn arrives at the Jason Wu runway show during New York Fashion Week.

Lindsey Vonn is the latest in a stream of top athletes who have talked openly about their mental health struggles. The world champion skier appeared on MSNBC’s Deadline: Special Report, a limited series which explores America’s mental health crisis in depth. Vonn discussed her struggles with depression and grief with host Nicolle Wallace, detailing the stigma athletes face around the topic. 

“It’s viewed as you can’t be a strong athlete if you’re depressed. You can’t be strong and have weakness,“ said the three-time Olympic medalist, who speaks about her experience visiting a doctor after discovering she shared similar symptoms with a friend who has depression. “I was diagnosed with depression and given medication and I still resisted therapy because I still thought there was nothing wrong with me. And there is nothing wrong with me. There’s nothing wrong with me!” 

Vonn admitted that she has drawn strength from the example of her late mother, Lindy Anne Lund, who died in August after a year-long battle with ALS. “When she was diagnosed with ALS, she was very sad obviously, it's terminal. She cried and then the next day she said, ‘Today is another great day,’” Vonn told Wallace. “And every day since then she said, ‘Today is gonna be a great day.’”

Vonn explained that this affirmation practice has helped her in her own darkest moments. “She was dying and she was positive. When you think about your own struggles, I’m like how could I not be positive? How could I look at the bright side of everything like my mother did? Because if she can see it, then I certainly can.”

Vonn, who retired from competitive skiing in 2019, released her memoir, Rise: My Story, in January. She launched a new collection of sunglasses in August.