Reaching out

Melville’s Lily Gresele raises awareness about mental health issues.

A FORMER elite gymnast who suffered from anxiety and depression is helping others with their mental health in a series of candid posts on social media. 

Melville’s Lily Gresele, 19, spent eight years training as a gymnast at the Western Australian Institute for Sport, but things started to unravel when she was 16 and the pressure to perform at school and competitions became overwhelming.

“I was living a very hectic lifestyle of being constantly on the go between training and school, it was all I had time for,” she says.

“Gymnasts are expected to be at their peak performance at 16, which is very different to most other sports where athletes are peaking in their adult years. We worked very hard at 36 hours a week.

“At times it had its rewards and its good moments for sure, but the mental and physical toll it was taking on me and my fellow teammates was too much to handle too soon for my young body. 

“I stopped because it just wasn’t worth it anymore, the culture and the training took too much of a toll on my body and I had lost the love and passion of the sport.” 

Ms Gresele started her road to recovery by telling her family about what she was going through and seeking professional help. 

She now feels a lot better, but is taking things day by day, and finds that documenting her experiences on her Instagram page @how_2_bewell not only helps her, but others dealing with the same issues.

The 19-year-old’s posts are touching and candid; revealing her everyday struggles and achievements.

“Not only has it made me feel more powerful by breaking the stigma surrounding mental health and normalising the discussion around it, it has made me feel less alone. It allows me to realise that people are in the same boat as me and I am not some abnormal human for feeling the way I do.”

Ms Gresele has also been selected to be this year’s Lifeline community custodian, holding conversations about mental health in communities across Australia. The role is part of a partnership with the Australian Institute of Sport, and Ms Gresele is the youngest of 23 elite and ex-elite athletes selected from sporting organisations across the nation.

“I am not 100 per cent with my mental health but I’m not sure that anyone ever is or will be,” she says. “It’s a bumpy road but I have most certainly improved and I am starting to see the light in life again and enjoying the simple things.”

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