This article was originally published in the University Press
It was the day before FAU punter Sebastian Riella’s last game during his senior year of high school.
He was in class, when all of a sudden he felt as if his vision was sinking into his head. He said his body had lost control of itself and all he could hear was his heart beat racing throughout his whole body.
His first thought was that he was having a heart attack. But after his mom rushed him to the hospital, he was diagnosed with two mental illnesses: anxiety and derealization disorder, or recurring out-of-body sensations.
“I felt as if I was watching my life unfold through a movie, like I was standing behind a glass and watching every little thing I did. I remember looking at my hands and feeling as if I wasn’t real. I thought I was alone. Days with this turned into months of a constant battle of what to me seemed like I was in a dream and I was just waiting to wake up,” Riella said.
Since high school, Riella has been an advocate for raising mental health awareness among FAU student-athletes. In July, Riella tweeted about wanting to end the stigma surrounding mental illness for student-athletes — and after, FAU launched new mental health programs for them.
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