Professional Football Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young shared his struggles with mental health at a charity event. It is revealed that he has grown up with severe separation anxiety. It wasn’t well-diagnosed in his playing career with the San Francisco 49ers.
According to The Athletic, Young spoke at a charity dinner for the non-profit Children’s Mind Institute at the Sharon Heights Golf & Country Club in Menlo Park, California on April 25th, according to The Athletic. In a speech on stage, Young described an episode in which he recalled excelling at school and sports, but used excuses to avoid breaking up with his parents. His mother, Sherry Young, would drive him to school and remain in her classroom. When his friends asked him to sleep at home, Young used athletics and early morning workouts as excuses.
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“I didn’t know this, but I grew up with severe separation anxiety as a child,” Young said at the event. “All I knew was that I didn’t sleep in anyone’s house. I got an A, didn’t miss a day at school, and was captain of three sports. I mean, if you had known me then, you’d be like, ‘That kid killed me. there is.’ Because I was killing. But if you said, ‘Hey, do you want to sleep in my house?’ the answer is, ‘It won’t happen.'”
Young said his struggles continued into his thirties. He recalled two sleepless nights and anxiety prior to his game against the Atlanta Falcons in October 1991. After consulting with his family, Young realized that something was wrong with him and he promised to seek help.
After the game against the Falcons, Young said he saw team doctor James Klint whom he calls Reggie. Young asked Klint to speak privately and eventually told him about his symptoms and everything he had been through until the game day.
“Reggie said, ‘Steve, what you’re suffering from is severe undiagnosed childhood separation anxiety’.” said Young. “I’ve been playing pro bowl for five, six, seven years, you know? I said, ‘What? What do you mean?’
“But the next day, I went to the child psychologist, we were having a conversation and he asked me 10 questions. And if you answer yes to 8 of them, then you have this serious problem. I answered 10 of them, ‘Yes.’ It just seemed like a classic. How did I turn 30 and finally got a name for this crazy thing?”
Young played 15 seasons in the NFL from 1985 to 1999. The first two years of his career were spent at Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the rest in San Francisco. Young was a three-time Super Bowl champion, three-time AP First Team All-Pro, two-time MVP, and seven-time professional bowler.
He finished his career at 33,124 yards, 232 touchdowns and 107 interceptions with a 64.3% success rate. He also threw 722 balls over 4,239 yards and 43 touchdowns.
“I think we get lost in the woods when the park custodians come,” Young said. “Are you ashamed to ask him for directions? No, you would be an idiot not to ask him for directions. We want everyone to have the same experience that makes this less shameful. It would be foolish not to seek out. It helps.”