Baltimore Ravens tight end Hayden Hurst established himself as an NFL player in 2019 when he made 30 receptions for a 14-2 team.
But the 26-year-old is sharing details about a less-successful time in his life when his battles with anxiety and depression led to a suicide attempt.
“I’m not this superhero that’s portrayed on TV. I’m a regular person,” Hurst told Jacksonville station WTLV. “I struggle with depression, anxiety and things like that.”
The Jacksonville native’s long-term struggles included a scary incident in January 2016 after he quit pursuit of a professional baseball career and was a walk-on with South Carolina’s football program.
A night of drinking while depressed led to him slashing his wrist and waking up in a hospital. He was handcuffed to the bed.
“I woke up in the hospital,” Hurst told WTLV. “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.”
That episode led Hurst to seek help for his mental health challenges. Now, he is intent on raising the awareness.
“I don’t have the answers to fix all of this,” Hurst told the station. “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.”
Hurst also detailed times when he would withdraw from family and friends and heavily drink in an attempt to cure his problems.
“There were weeks at a time I would sit in a dark room and not want to be around people,” Hurst said. “Just that fear of embarrassment. I had never experienced anything like that.”
After one of those experiences, he learned his father also struggled with mental health issues.
“He told me the family history with his (obsessive-compulsive disorder),” 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.’”
Hurst is one of approximately 40 million adults dealing with an anxiety disorder, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. The group said it is common for people with anxiety to also suffer from depression.
Hurst is doing his part to lessen the stigma involved with mental health issues.
“For some reason, people equate mental illness with having to be ashamed. It’s something you shouldn’t talk about,” Hurst said. “I don’t think it’s anything to be ashamed of. Everybody goes through something ... If my story is going to change the narrative on this and people are going to talk about it more, then so be it.”
—Field Level Media