North Carolina Courage’s new signing Millie Farrow believes her tell-all new autobiography, “Brave enough not to give up“, will offer hope to players silently suffering from the crippling pressures of anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) in competitive sport.
Unlike most sports biographies, Farrow’s non-linear account of his life does not dwell on games and goals, but instead focuses on his own character and emotional journey in a career marked by a succession of injury setbacks. which were exacerbated by his own mental health. -health problems.
Suffering from anxiety and OCD since childhood, Farrow explains how these conditions were ignored and excused, as she struggled all the time to succeed in a competitive athletic environment. Its lowest points are cataloged in sometimes awkward detail.
After suffering the first of her anterior cruciate ligament injuries as a teenager playing for Chelsea in the FA Girls’ Youth Cup Final in 2012, Farrow describes the dark thought processes associated with long-term rehabilitation, saying in the book that “what I just went through is absolutely horrific and what makes it worse is knowing that I will have to go through it again tomorrow.”
After Chelsea, Farrow had stints at Bristol City, Reading, Leicester City and Crystal Palace, meaning the pressures and peculiarities of trying to forge a career in professional women’s sport, where wages are lower and contracts are often shorter, are discussed in the book. Farrow tells me “women’s football, as it gets older, gets a little more unforgiving. There are clubs that pay big money – livable money – and then there are clubs that don’t pay It almost feels like you can’t hurt yourself because you’re afraid of being released. It’s really hard.
Now about to embark on a new adventure playing in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) after signing for North Carolina Courage on a one-year contract, Farrow tells me she is mentally better equipped to live away from home. In 2017, she turned down the opportunity to move to Norway, a decision, in hindsight, that she is glad she made. “I wasn’t in the best mental state to be honest, my OCD was pretty overwhelming.”
In her book, Farrow describes how her OCD dominated her life, ruining her early experiences going to international boot camps as she avoided certain people and situations that would trigger her behavior. Under such circumstances, she was never able to fulfill her potential, increasing her self-imposed pressure and creating a suffocating circle of fear and disappointment. She admitted she was “guilty of trying to argue with reality, that’s an argument I will always lose”.
Drawing on the expertise of Vernon Sankey, author of self-help books such as The staircase of happiness, and Rob Blackburne, an elite performance coach, helped change Farrow’s perception of his life situation. The obstacles created by the successive injuries were not reasons to be angry, but lessons to be learned. By changing their mindset and the negative language used in certain situations, Farrow believes that anyone can overcome their problems, “if we have the ability to change our way of thinking, our problems can disappear”.
Last year, Farrow was prescribed an antidepressant, sertraline, to manage his anxiety and OCD. In the long run, she hopes that the positive mindset she is now equipped with will allow her to kick the drug habit. “I’m just learning every day but my goal is to not have to put up with it anymore, I really believe it’s possible, 100 per cent.”
With the publication of her book last month, Farrow hopes opening up about her struggles will encourage others to face their fears in hopes of maximizing their potential. “In the past I was a bit reluctant to talk about these things. I’ve always been a bit scared that the coaches or the manager will see me as weak, which is kind of what a lot of players go through when they’ are in trouble, they often keep it to themselves because they fear not being played or not being trustworthy on the pitch.
Now a published author, does she worry that her new teammates will judge her on the emotional baggage she carried then, rather than the person she has become? “I have absolutely no problem being honest about it,” she tells me. “I actually encourage people to read it because I know there are a lot of players in similar situations that I’ve been through before. It’s easy, when you’re struggling with something, d go inward and it’s harder to find the right people to actually go through a lot of people on the same team as you most of the time.
“With the release of the book, and especially speaking of OCD, the amount of messages and people who reached out to me with their stories was really overwhelming for me. Honestly, I really didn’t know what to expect, what kind of response would I get. It was actually kind of emotional reading some of the posts from people. When something isn’t talked about, you feel lonely and you’re the only one going through it. I I’m really glad I was able to put it there.”