On the surface, it appears Hayden Hurst has everything.
The Ravens tight end, a former first-rounder, is enjoying the life of an NFL player and all that comes with it. But he also remembers how close he was to the edge in college, when his struggles with depression and anxiety nearly cost him everything.
Hurst detailed his experience to Chris Porter of First Coast News, including a chilling incident from his days at the University of South Carolina.
“I woke up in the hospital,” Hurst said. “I didn’t know what happened. I had to have a friend fill me in. Apparently, I had been drinking and went into my apartment and cut my wrist. My friend found me in a puddle of blood. He called 911.”
While hospitalized, Hurst realized he needed help, and now wants to make sure others know it’s OK to ask for it.
“I want to use my platform to help people,” he said. “For some reason, people equate mental illness with having to be ashamed. It’s something you shouldn’t talk about. I don’t think it’s anything to be ashamed of. Everybody goes through something. The best thing my parents ever did was just being available. There’s not really a right or wrong thing you can say or an answer that can change everything but just making sure you’re available and you’re understanding. If my story is going to change the narrative on this and people are going to talk about it more, then so be it.”
“I don’t have the answers to fix all of this. It’s still a trial and error to this day, but I will say I have much more good days than I do bad days. I’m not this superhero that’s portrayed on TV. I’m a regular person. I struggle with depression, anxiety and things like that.”
He talked about some of his dark days when he was playing professional baseball, when he was drinking every day, feeling overwhelmed, and not wanting to be around people. He said a conversation with his father on a golf course helped him realize the struggle was one his family knew.
“He told me the family history with his OCD,” Hurst said. “His anxiety and things as well. The depression he went through and it was easier than understanding, ‘Hey he’s been through this and he understands what’s going on.’ Then I laid out ‘Here’s what’s going on in my life.'”
He spoke at the Youth Crisis Center in Jacksonville, Fla., recently, and his foundation is hosting a golf tournament next week to help the group. Mostly, he’s willing to voice his own struggles, to help others know they’re not alone.