Urban Meyer opens up to Bleacher Report on his mental health issues

He's one of the elite faces of college football, so stress combined with long days, long nights and a heavy travel schedule is no stranger to Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer.

Prior to Meyer taking over the Buckeyes, his tenure at the University of Florida led to two national championships and a legacy that screamed success.

But Meyer wasn't happy. Though the public knew of some health issues he had while coaching Florida, his mental health has never been a prime topic.

Meyer opened up to Bleacher Report about his struggles in an exclusive interview published Tuesday.

According to Bleacher Report, Meyer slipped into a concerning state during his time with the Gators.

"Meyer would come home and sit in his recliner and brood. He wasn’t taking care of himself. He forgot to eat. He stopped working out. By 2009, he had lost 40 pounds, his pants baggy on his 170-pound frame. And he couldn’t sleep," the article states.

The story also gives prominence to Meyer's wife, Shelley, a psychiatric nurse who saw the signs and tried to urge her husband to acknowledge his mental health issues,

Meyer's state worsened to a level of chasing Ambien with beer in order to sleep, the article says. But still, he insisted he was fine.

“I hate to admit that, but yeah, 15 years ago, maybe 10 years ago, I would’ve been like, 'C’mon, man, toughen up. What the hell’s wrong with you?'” he told Bleacher Report.

Meyer took a leave of absence from Florida in 2009 after he suffered chest pains linked to GERD. According to Bleacher Report, Meyer collapsed at home one evening and was rushed to the hospital.

That was when Meyer says he finally started to listen to his wife and acknowledge that something was causing his stress, anxiety and depression.

He returned as the Gators' head coach in 2010.

After the 2010 season, Meyer once again decided to step away from football, again stating intentions to focus on his family more. He announced his retirement and joined ESPN's college football coverage as an analyst. 

Meyer couldn't keep away from the game, taking over the Buckeyes in 2011. He had to agree to certain terms with his family, promising they'd always come first.

Now, with the 2014 National Championship added to his resume, Meyer says he's healthy because he's learned to address his mental health issues. 

"He talks with people constantly, and Shelley in particular, sometimes calling her a dozen times a day. 'Constantly making sure,' he says. 'I self-check. I have Shelley self-check. We talk a lot,'” Bleacher Report says.

Meyer has since weaned himself from his Ambien dependency, a process that took six months. Now, he reads the Bible, talks more to his wife and has gained and understanding of the importance of mental health.

"He says the world of sports, maybe even the world on the whole, needs to be more proactive, honest and open about mental health. “There’s no doubt. The world is so much different now than 10 years ago. Ten years ago, if you had an issue, it was a private matter. Now, it’s not a private matter, and I see kids bottom out. There are so many outside pressures on these players now, pressures that didn’t exist when I was playing—pressures that didn’t exist 15 years ago,'" according to Bleacher Report.

Click here to read the full story.


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