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  • Jolene Roehlkepartain

When You Encounter the Twisties

“My full-time job is my mental health,” said author Elizabeth Gilbert.

Her words surprised me.

“It really is a full-time job to cultivate and tend to our mental well-being,” Gilbert said. “The quality of life is directly related to our attention to our mental health.”

Many athletes spoke about mental health during the summer 2021 Olympics when U.S. gymnast Simone Biles pulled out of many events because of “having a little bit of the twisties.”

Gymnasts know that the “twisties” entail losing control of their bodies as they spin in the air.

For those of us who aren’t athletes, the “twisties” explain the phenomenon when we lose our footing, lose our sense of where we are and where we’re going, or discover that we’re losing it, even when we don’t understand why.

This sensation is more than a momentary occurrence. It’s when the discomfort builds and sticks. If we’re not careful, we head into dangerous territory when we go, go, go, and don’t stop.

“I say put mental health first,” Biles told reporters after she pulled out of Olympic events. “It’s okay to sit out even the big competitions…. It shows how strong of a person you really are.”

How strong are we? Are we willing to say we need to stop when the pressures get too great? Are we willing to tend to our mental well-being?

May we all find the courage to do so.

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