Gabby Douglas Is Taking Time to Focus on Mental Health: 'I Have Carried a Heavy Weight on My Back'

“So many things and people have tried to crush and break me,” the two-time Olympian wrote of her decision to step back from social media for her mental health

Gabby Douglas at The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation's 28th annual 'A Time For Heroes' family festival
Photo: Charley Gallay/Getty Images

Gabby Douglas is stepping away from social media in order to get to a happier place.

The two-time Olympic gymnast, 26, announced on Instagram Sunday that she's going on a social media hiatus in order to "heal" from the things that she says have been taking a toll on her mental health.

"Hey guys👋Gabby here. I know I don't post a lot on social media, but I just wanted to let you guys know that I will be taking a step back from the socials to work on myself and focus on my mental health🖤," she wrote.

"My life has never been smooth or easy. I have carried a heavy weight on my back for quite some time and it has weighed me down, physically, mentally, and emotionally," Douglas said. "So many things and people have tried to crush and break me."

sometimes we fall we break we fail
Gabby Douglas Instagram

Douglas added that she no longer wants to run from mental health issues but "fight and heal" moving forward, sharing that she's ready to get to a better place in her life.

"I refuse to be defeated by this weight, I refuse to be hardened by this weight. I want to feel light and happy again. I want to be the best representation for all of you and be the best version of myself," she continued. "I love you all so much and I am forever grateful for every single one of you. Your love and support does not go unnoticed. Don't forget to take some time off for yourself🖤."

"Sometimes we fall, we break, we fail but then we heal, we rise, we overcome," Douglas added in the caption.

Following the candid post, the gymnast received a number of well wishes in the comments.

"Sending you so much love right now ❤️❤️❤️❤️," actress Laura Marano wrote while fellow gymnast Donnell Whittenburg added, "Do what you gotta do fam, at the end of the day it all about the discovery to self improvement 🙏🏾."

Douglas has been vocal about her mental health, specifically how it relates to her athletic career.

Last summer, the Olympic gymnast spoke to USA Today, saying the 2016 Games "really did a number on me."

"Coming from that [I focused on] really healing myself, healing my mind and my body," said Douglas. "I'm not on social media a lot because social media did damage to my personality, in a way. So [I've] just been taking years off of social media, off my phone, and really just kind of getting back to who I am."

Douglas also shared her support for Naomi Osaka after the tennis star's decision to withdraw from the 2021 French Open for reasons related to mental health.

"Every person knows what they need to do to fix themselves, to heal themselves, and everyone's different," said Douglas.

She added, "Being an athlete, we go through so much already. If you need to step back, that's what you need to do."

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