PSYCHIATRY AND MENTAL HEALTH – THE CHALLENGES OF AN ATHLETE WITH A MENTAL DISEASE – PART I

22 Sep 2018
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PSYCHIATRY AND MENTAL HEALTH – THE CHALLENGES OF AN ATHLETE WITH A MENTAL DISEASE – PART I

Psychiatry was a science that in my subjectivity I hung in the recesses of the mind until August 2016 when I began a trip that culminated in four hospitalizations on psychiatric hospital; sometimes it is necessary to leave so that it makes sense to return … It is this invitation that I address to you in the next 10 minutes. Do you accept the challenge?

AT THE BEGINNING EXISTED THE VERB

I practice judo since I was 13 years old; it is a transcendent sport and provides me with a line of integrity that was coined to me from my parents’ 48-year marriage. I like judo because it is a sports science that teaches us to equalize our look at the paradigm of human existence through seven codes that kiss the lines of respect, courtesy and self-control. I responded to the call of this martial art in September of 2006. When I began the practice of the sport – by invitation of the mother of Telma Monteiro – I felt the mystique and responsibility of the kimono, the meekness of the black belt. (We fight in the judo barefoot exactly, in my philosophical understanding, so that at the beginning of the combat we know that we are composed of the same mass and its respective matter). My body immortalized this art with the skill and dedication, and with only one year of serious and committed training I became a 14-year-old national champion.

A CAREER IN ASCENSION

After the iconic skinny boy with a knee-high orange belt, there was a mental and physical maturation that gave me a nimble and strong body and a resilient mind prepared to handle the challenges of a high-professional career. With my basilar pillar: my family – I walked in the direction of professionalism, which would happen in the year of 2013 when I joined the Eagles’ club  (Sport Lisboa e Benfica). As a testimony to my junior track they have witnessed the seventh positions at the European and World Senior Championships and several medals in the international circuit. At the moment I was a promise of the sport with Olympic aspirations; which came to fruition three years later when I qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

THE MANIFESTATION OF THE DISEASE

The Olympic Games was on of the most fantastic experiences for all the obvious reasons but mainly for representing Portugal; however, everything would turn into a nightmare after the ippon defeat against an athlete underdog – although in my mind I did not make the mistake of underestimating him; analyzing the fight now I assume that I let all the setbacks of a heart weakened by anxiety take hold of me and lead me to the mat. After the debacle I spent hellish days that last to nowdays. At first I felt as if someone very close to my family had died: I was crying compulsively, I woke up in the middle of the night with shortness of breath and I felt a deep burning in the groove of my throat. After a few days, they explained to me that I had had a psychotic outbreak: symptomatology that I would suffer a year later after the Budapest World Championship 2017 – in which I ranked 9th. It manifests itself as a set of hallucinations and delusions that move me to a parallel reality in which I evidence persecutory symptoms. I was diagnosed with a schizo-compulsive syndrome. I tried to commit suicide twice!

A JANUARY THAT LASTS UNTIL SUMMER

Earlier this year I began to experience different symptoms: I began to hear homicidal voices inside my head. In my mental panorama I was given images to kill my loved ones and to give them a pathological suffering. I spoke with my psychiatrist – Dr. Filipa Moutinho – and started treatment with an anti-depressant medication. The months have passed and the voices intensified:

“You’re going to kill your mother because she’s a whore. You are the God of the Universe. You sold me your soul and now you’re going to pay. You’re a fucking manipulator, fucker, motherfucker, why do not you kill yourself?”

This is a small example of the things I heard (and still hear) inside my head. Whenever I approached someone the voice said that I was going to kill that person: my heart exploded inside my chest, cold sweat ran through my body and an atrocious agony carried the feelings of my reality. Day and night, second after second, over and over again, this decadent voice consumed my guts! On August 5th to protect the people around me, I incurred violence against myself in order to turn the game against me: I cut myself, I laid down on the subway’s line and went to the road to be smashe by cars…

A GOLD FAMILY

In all these moments I counted on the support of my family and my boyfriend. I know this story is impactful! All I can say is that I survived … Tomorrow I’ll tell you what this summer was like.

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