“Just because your problems may not seem as big as others, they are your problems and they matter.” This is what our Athletic Trainer, Emily Osborne, told me when I decided to take a step back from basketball my sophomore year to take care of my physical health.

During my freshman year, I weighed around 190 pounds. At the beginning of my sophomore year, I weighed 130 pounds. I was later diagnosed with Chron’s Disease, a chronic illness that affects your small intestine.

While I may have dealt with many physical issues these last few years I have also struggled at times to cope mentally. What has gotten me through all of these years is the counseling I’ve received here at Goshen.

The first months of counseling it felt like I was always talking about something positive, and while that’s not a bad thing, I never addressed anything meaningful during that time. In reality, I felt like a failure, a liar and I felt weak as a man for sharing my feelings. I questioned myself, “Without basketball, what is my value?”

As I went to counseling every week, turning into months and eventually years,  I realized the amount of growth that I have made since I started. I started to make small changes in my life like eating healthier and getting better sleep. I started to reach out to others that I knew cared about me and talked to them more. I cut out some people I considered friends and realized they were only making my journey harder.

Lastly, and very recently, I have started to try to love myself. This has been the hardest part of my mental journey as it has taken me a lot of time to realize that I need to do so before I can ever think about trying to love anyone else.

Now, a few weeks following the end of my college basketball career, I can answer that question confidently: my value is in what I do every day and how I do it. I realize that I am more than my sport and ultimately, I always was.

I’m big in my faith and I am a firm believer that God has given me the opportunities to grow tremendously.

I thank God every day for the teammates I had this past year because I finally felt that I had teammates that I could call brothers. Every single last one. I thank God for the friends who stuck it out with me when I had all these issues to start. I thank God for Goshen College and the counseling services they provide.

Going to counseling has been the best choice I have made in my life. I highly recommend talking about your feelings, especially as a man. If you don’t want to, that’s fine, but don’t classify yourself as more of a man for not doing so.

Everyone is on their own journey, and if you want to find happiness you need to worry about your journey, not others. There is nothing wrong with addressing your issues. Lastly, if you are struggling mentally it is ultimately up to you to get yourself out, but there is nothing wrong with asking for help.

Get knocked down, get back up, get meaningful help and keep moving forward. A verse I remind myself of in hard moments is Psalms 34:18, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Micah is a senior history and secondary education double major. He played basketball for four years at Goshen College. Currently, he coaches girls’ travel basketball and is president of the Asian Student Association on campus.