Asia Royster has been a name that has traveled all through Tampa, Florida for the presence she has had on the basketball court, and in her modeling career. She is also a graduate from Saint Leo University with her BA in Psychology and a recent commit to Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University to work towards her masters while continuing to play the sport she loves. These are the accolades we know her from, but there is more to her than these amazing accomplishments that will truly impact millions. Asia’s story of tearing her ACL and dealing with depression and anxiety symptoms has taken her to dark places, but she has worked hard to find coping mechanisms and keep her peace. Her story will wake up the athletic community and bring forth a message that many like to keep silent. Her vulnerability echoes through this whole Q&A and you can’t help but feel her pain through her words. Thank you, Asia, for sharing your truth. Thank you for taking the time to talk about a subject many runs from. You are truly inspirational and StayWhole will always be in your corner.
Be Inspired w/ B
Q & A
How do you feel about mental health?
Having good mental health is vital in human nature. However, it isn’t easy to maintain a healthy mind. Many people struggle with their mental well-being and often find it very difficult to address their concerns because they may feel like it will “just go away” or they do not know what is going on and they cannot begin to describe what is happening inside their minds. Others may just find it frustrating venting about how they feel, to then have someone else criticize their feelings and tell them that what their feeling is bad and/or wrong. I feel that it is important for us to feel, it is what makes us who we are. The ability to experience emotions when they are controlled can be beautiful. Mental health is a part of our everyday lives. Good mental health is to be able to attain a balance between life activities and efforts to achieve psychological resilience.
Have you ever dealt with mental health/depression?
Unfortunately, I deal with it way too often. Some days are better than others, but sometimes some days feel like they’re never-ending. I always struggled with my mental sanity, it has been very hard for me to control my emotions because of it. It became more prominent when I got to college. That’s when shit got real. I cannot begin to explain the hours I spent crying alone, and even in the presence of others. My mind began to play tricks on me, it began to manipulate my physical body into doing things I regret. I would act so irrationally, become enraged at things that should have been easily brushed under the rug. Felt sadness in times I should have felt pure joy. I felt numb and like nothing from time to time. I STILL do … it took me a very long time to realize that what I was doing and feeling wasn’t normal.
Being a psychology major has made me more aware of my mental consciousness, however, it doesn’t help. It kind of makes things worse … tearing my ACL two years ago made it worse. I felt like I was lost and more out of control than I ever was. How could I come off such a strong ending to my sophomore season, confident, and finally comfortable in college to just have what I love taken away from me so abruptly? How could that happen to me? Why … why must I constantly go through pain when I finally find joy. On average people usually take about 8 to 9 months to fully recover and become cleared to return to their sport. It took me almost 2 very LONG, and very HARD years to finally play the sport I fell in love with. I spent every day going through several emotions in just one day. I fell in love during this time and got my heart broken, it had been trampled over. I felt as if I was dying, my heart was broke and my knee was weak. I wanted nothing more than to just … die. I didn’t want to be alive anymore. I wanted to kill myself every day, but I never had the guts to. I lost myself in just two years.
Did you reach out for help?
I have, more times than once … However, I feel like no one understands me or what I feel. Counselors seem to be more into a quick diagnosis than they are to help make me understand why I feel these feelings, or how I can control them. How to not let my impulsivity affect my progression as a woman. The help I sought out wanted to suppress my feelings, wanted to tell me that what I was feeling was nothing. Or what I was feeling could be controlled by drugs. I found my own coping mechanism, sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes it’s just easier for me to just crawl into bed and just sleep, sleep takes me away from my mind.
Do you feel mental health should be taken more seriously with student-athletes? Why?
Hell yeah! I feel as if athletic departments NEED to prioritize their student-athletes mental well-being more, especially those dealing with injuries. Most people who aren’t athletes think that we have it easy. They don’t see everything that goes into what we do. The early morning workouts, the mandatory team meetings and study halls, the practices, then the individual workouts, with classes, with maintaining a proper GPA to be eligible to play. Then there is in practice, the physical demands we do to our body’s all because we love our sport, it keeps us sane. It is not mandatory, we can quit, no one is forcing us to do these things but we do it because we love what we do. But what do we do when that love isn’t there anymore? What do we do when the love for the game has been stripped away? Who can we go to then? What helps us from staying sane. The school guidance counselor? The coach who is aiding in your loss of love? The AD who you feel doesn’t even know you? Your teammates? The GA? WHO? WHO DO YOU GO TO? Who actually can help you when that shit happens …? Exactly, you don’t know.
I unexpectedly and humbly just signed to FAMU to play my 5th year, using my red-shirt year. I graduate with my bachelor’s degree in April 2019, and I am moving on to get my Master’s degree in community psychology. My days consist of me working, I bar-tend and working out. I found that the busier I am, the less I have time to myself which helps me focus less on my inner thoughts. I do not try to suppress my feelings as much, instead, I do things that help me. I picked up yoga to help ease my mind and body. I stopped going out as much and started building stronger relationships with people that loved me unconditionally. I focus more on protecting myself and my sanity.
I do things to avoid any unwanted feelings I may come across. I speak more openly about my experiences even if they’re embarrassing because I want others to learn from my mistakes, and trust me there are plenty. I am focused more on the now, and leave EVERYTHING in God’s hands. I go with the flow and try to not stress as much. I don’t go around people or things that can trigger me. I found my triggers, and I work to avoid them. It is very hard for me to keep positive mental well-being but honestly, it is worth it. I still can’t control my emotions, I just learned how to control how I react to my emotions. I started building my modeling portfolio so that whenever I am completely done with basketball I can dive fully into that. Right now, I just take it day by day and try to keep my mental health a priority, because NOBODY got me as I got me.
Basketball Player at FAMU