Brandon Brooks makes first Pro Bowl after learning to handle anxiety

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Eagles right guard Brandon Brooks missed two games in 2016 with an anxiety condition that debilitated him. Brooks still vomits, as is his pregame ritual, but he has learned to control his anxiety.

“I’m always going to be anxious,” Brooks said, via Zach Berman of “But I realize it’s OK to be anxious. Really, how I look at it, it’s your body knowing you’re about to go out there and play. . . . It’s how my body handles it. But it’s OK. It’s not something I need to panic about. That’s just how my body handles it on game day. Go in there and throw up, and I’ll be fine.”

Brooks played every game in a Pro Bowl season after missing two games in a three-week period during the 2016 season. He required intravenous fluids and was hospitalized with what was initially believed to be a stomach illness. Brooks said he had to learn how to deal with imperfection and “turn my brain off.”

Brooks took medication for his condition when he resumed playing last season. He still meets with a therapist once a week.

“I guess the mental awareness tip was just like, if you pull a hamstring and you need ice to [stimulate] your rehab, it’s the same thing mentally,” Brooks said. “It’s a lot of stuff that goes on in life. It’s not all rainbows and lollipops. Sometimes you need someone to talk to. Sometimes things are deeper than what you think, or you have something from your past that’s affecting you, and you don’t even know. But it’s nice to be able to talk to somebody on a confidential level and get Ph.D. advice.”

9 responses to “Brandon Brooks makes first Pro Bowl after learning to handle anxiety

  1. Having dealt with anxiety for years I can relate. Congrats to Brandon for managing his condition well enough to perform at such a high level. I’ve found that as I age the symptoms (panic attacks, etc.).have less and less of an impact. Continued success to him.

  2. God bless Brandon. He’s overcome (or learn to manage) a condition that can be debilitating to many, and is one of the best OL in the league. The stigma surrounding anxiety is sad. Hopefully more and more attention can be paid to mental health and possible treatments.

  3. Wow, what an incredible young man to openly discuss his anxiety and his ability to develop cope. Brandon is 100% correct, if he had a hamstring injury he would seek treatment, if he had diabetes he would use insulin. Seeking treatment via a professional therapist and taking anti-anxiety medication when necessary is important. Congratulations for the strength to speak about your health.

  4. Good for you Brandon. You’re in good company. Bill Russel threw up before every game, but back then he just had “nerves”. Best of luck in your career – but maybe not on Sunday 😉

    – Pats Fan

  5. He is a very smart and thoughtful guy, and a phenomenal athlete for someone his size. Good for him for being willing to discuss this in an honest and open way.

  6. .
    Medical marijuana is often used to treat anxiety. Brooks would be a good NFL case study for its benefits if it was an effective treatment.

  7. I do now appreciate a player I didn’t follow, before. I will now, and I will have my own reasons.

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