A personal photo of Brooke Crain and her father.
Two-time Olympic BMX racer Brooke Crain used to be someone who kept secrets. But not anymore.
“I am somebody who has struggled with mental health and being suicidal for years,” she admitted.
Looking back on it, Crain said, her struggles stemmed from her first big secret. “It was based on hiding my sexuality and not feeling like I could be openly gay.”
Knowing since the age of 13 that she was what she called “different than most,” the now 29-year-old came out in 2018 when she announced she was engaged to her longtime girlfriend, Australian BMX racer Rachel Jones. The following year, the two were married.
But in April 2020, she began experiencing random outbursts of aggression, depression, and dark thoughts.
“I’ve always been a happy person, so this was something that I had never really experienced before,” Crain said.
She reached out to the athletic trainer at the Olympic & Paralympic Training Center out of concern she had early onset CTE, a progressive brain condition thought to be caused by frequent blows to the head and repeated concussions.
Having raced since the age of 6 — when she followed her older brother into the sport — she thought her recorded concussions might have been a contributing factor. “And that’s not to say how many went unrecorded from a young age,” she added.
When she got an MRI done on her brain it showed that she had stopped producing serotonin, a chemical messenger that’s believed to act as a mood stabilizer. “It wasn’t necessarily anything that was because of me, but rather circumstances that had happened to me,” she said.
She was put on an antidepressant that she has been on ever since.
“Thank God I reached out for help,” the Visalia, California native said. “Honestly, it saved my life.”
During all of this, she was very open with her friends and family about what was going on. “I wasn’t ashamed of it because I knew something was wrong with me and I wanted to fix it.”
At the time, she remembered her dad asking a lot of questions and being very interested in what she had to say.
A couple of months later, in July 2020, her 54-year-old father took his own life.