Anxiety and stress resulted in Tayla Jackson quitting basketball. Now she is focusing on a new blog to help student-athletes deal with the battles away from the game. Luke Ehman @midrangejay photo

‘The stress would put my stomach into knots’ says former B.C. high school hoops star

Blog focuses on helping student-athletes deal with stress, anxiety

Tayla Jackson was unhappy, but she didn’t know why.

Those around her may not have noticed anything was amiss, but Jackson could not shake a feeling of uneasiness trapped inside.

The combination of stress and anxiety became so bad, Jackson walked away from the game she loved, basketball.

But when one chapter ends, another begins, and for Jackson, that means sharing her story and her struggles with other student-athletes facing similar issues through her new blog, Anxiety N Athletes.

The blog examines the battles that student-athletes face away from the game and offers a way for them to connect with others experiencing similar struggles.

Jackson, who turns 21 later this month, first noticed the signs when she began university following graduation from Langley’s Brookswood Secondary in 2015.

She was attending the University of California Irvine on a basketball scholarship following an outstanding high school career with the Brookswood Bobcats as one of the province’s top players.

From the time she began high school in Grade 8, Jackson played on the senior girls team, and did not look out of place, helping the Bobcats to five top-four finishes at provincials, including silver in Grade 10 and gold in the final two seasons.

SEE: The transformation of Tayla

However, after one season in California, she returned home to Surrey to attend Simon Fraser University and play for the Clan.

But something was still not right.

“I didn’t know why I couldn’t shake this stress of the everyday routine because every day was pretty much the same,” Jackson explained.

“I always had this little bit shortness of breath and stress deep inside my chest and I didn’t know why I had that feeling — I had never experienced that before. It was almost like I was freaking out over something I couldn’t figure out and what it was and it would make things worse.”

Jackson always knew playing her sport at the highest level would be difficult but she admits to having no idea what it would entail mentally and emotionally.

“I knew going into it that it would be hard but I thought as long as I put the ball in the hoop, everything else would fall into place,” she explained.

Jackson — who is studying to be an elementary school teacher — played a big role on the Clan this past season, as the team’s second-leading scorer and rebounder at 11.9 points and 4.6 rebounds, respectively, per game.

But the past three years have been filled with stress and anxiety.

“I would wake up and throw up because the stress would put my stomach into knots,” she explained.

Even achieving on-court success did little to alleviate what she was experiencing internally.

“I was hitting all the milestones that I had imagined for myself but I didn’t feel satisfied whatsoever,” she said. “I still tossed and turned, not wanting to wake up in the morning and do it all over again … and I couldn’t explain what I was feeling or why I was feeling it.”

She also felt that the demands of the sport were transforming her from who she really is.

“I really lost touch of my spark,” she explained. “I definitely think it was hard to spend every day trying to be shifted and moulded into someone who I wasn’t naturally.”

So she quit basketball.

Whereas Jackson felt like she was walking on eggshells before the decision, she now feels free.

She also decided to launch her blog last month.

“Wearing your heart on your sleeve, putting it out there, you are making yourself so vulnerable to people, you don’t know how they are going to react,” Jackson said. “But knowing that someone can relate or understand, makes it all worthwhile.

“This is an expose of my experiences in hopes that others (can) deal with their own emotional struggles.”

Her message is simple.

“You need to know you are worth fighting for,” she said. “And you need to put your happiness first.”



sports@langleytimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Gary Ahuja Langley Times file photo

Just Posted

Three strong earthquakes reported off Vancouver Island

The quakes, all measuring more than 6.0 on the richter scale, were about 260 kilometres west of Tofino

Mother passes SD70 trustee torch to daughter in Port Alberni

Jane Jones loses after one term, but proud of her daughter Connie Watts

ELECTION 2018: Sharie Minions named Port Alberni mayor

Haggard, Solda, Washington, Poon, Paulson and Corbeil named councillors

Four incumbents re-elected to School District 70 in Port Alberni

Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District board will have a new look

2018 municipal election: Few surprises on Vancouver Island

16 incumbent mayors will continue in their positions for four more years

Canada Post strikes leaves small shops in the lurch as holidays approach: CFIB

Rotating strikes began in Victoria, Edmonton, Halifax and Windsor

CFL playoff picture still muddled heading into weekend action

League revealed last week no fewer than 64 potential playoff permutations

New monitoring of vessel noise impact on endangered whales announced

Federal government to monitor underwater ship and mammal noise in B.C.’s Salish Sea

Used election signs could serve as emergency shelters, B.C. candidate says

Langley Township council hopeful wants to build one-person foul weather shelters for homeless

Liberals write off $6.3 billion in loans as part of money never to be collected

That includes student loans and a $2.6 billion write off that came through Export Development Canada

Trudeau, McKenna to announce compensation for federal carbon plan

Provinces that don’t have a carbon price of at least $20 per tonne of emissions will have Ottawa’s plan forced on them

UPDATE: American rapper killed in skydiving accident

Man, 34, dies in skydiving accident Saturday near Westwold, between Vernon and Kelowna

Man who died at BC Ferries terminal shot himself as police fired: watchdog

Officers didn’t commit any offence, says police watchdog office

Most Read