(WTVO/WQRF) — In 2017 Rockford Lutheran alum Kailyn Strawbridge was living her dream, playing D1 basketball at Loyola University – until she tore her right meniscus. What spiraled into tears in both knees, resulting in three surgeries, forced her to retire from the game she loves.
“It was very difficult because I was told it was a simple surgery, a simple recovery and to find out that my tears were really, really destructive and it caused a lot of damage to the surrounding bones and everything, it was really a tough pill to swallow,” Kailyn said.
After her first injury, Kailyn began experiencing anxiety and depression. Her mom suggested therapy, but it wasn’t until last summer and after she retired that she started seeing a therapist.
“I still was against it,” Kailyn admitted. “My first three sessions, me and her were just lookin’ at each other.”
What she thought would be a quick fix, wasn’t enough. The same day Kailyn’s head coach handed her a piece of paper to sign, saying she was forfeiting her eligibility, and just a week before her 21st birthday, was the same day she tried to take her life away.
“I was physically alone in my apartment,” Kailyn said. “My roommate wasn’t there. I turned off all the lights and honestly, I can’t even remember anything but calling one of my friends and… I was just saved and I couldn’t even tell you how.”
Only a select amount of people knew what Kailyn had gone through. Not even her parents knew, until she decided to share her story on her Instagram account.
“My mom was just so sorry that she couldn’t be there,” Kailyn said. “I was just trying to reassure her, it’s not a reflection of my parents, it was just me. I couldn’t get the words out.”
After sharing her story on Instagram, Kailyn received messages from all over, even from people she doesn’t know.
“Other athletes and even coaches that coach AAU programs and just high school programs, especially in the Rockford area reached out to me,” Kailyn said. “I was just like, wow. I’m happy I was able to do this and reach people ’cause I really just want to reach younger kids and just show them that it’s okay.”
To those who are weary of seeking out help for mental health, Kailyn says it can be scary at first, but it pays off.
“I really feel so much better and I have someone that I feel confident in,” Kailyn said. “Most of the time it’s just me talking. They’re not even saying anything. I’m just talking and talking and I feel better. I’m like, ‘Okay, that’s it! That’s all I have to say today.'”
Kailyn isn’t completely gone from the game of basketball. She was a student coach at Loyola this past season, still on scholarship. She plans to do the same this upcoming season, while she finishes up her last year of undergrad.