Madison Butehorn's Story


Madison Butehorn is a starter on the USC Equestrian team. Forty girls are on the team, but only five compete. Madison is one of those five. She is a straight-A student, star athlete, and overall the perfect example of what someone should be. But like many others, Madison has suffered from mental health conditions. Read below as she describes her journey through her mental health, and the hope she has for all students who share in her experiences.

“I’m a senior, which is kind of scary. I’m a public health major. I don’t really know exactly what I want to do, but I think I might want to take a year off, do some traveling. I’m really interested in global health.

Last semester, I started struggling with different mental health concerns. I didn’t really realize what was going on with my mental health until the end of a relationship I was in. I was drifting away from my friends. I didn’t realize at the time that I was depending on the relationship to make me feel better. I was always worried about the future. I’ve always been a kind of anxious person. When the relationship ended, things sort of spiraled. This summer was probably one of the hardest times of my life. During the month of May, I came home and I was so anxious that I couldn’t eat. I didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning. I would cry every day and I didn’t have any motivation to do anything. I felt alone, like I had nothing. With my anxiety, I have obsessions. I had trouble making decisions, and when I did make decisions I would regret them immediately. I have a mood disorder too. A lot of times I’d feel really up, then the next day feel really down.

Towards the end of May, my mom talked to me about seeing someone. I started seeing a psychologist, who basically told me that I had a mood disorder on the Bipolar spectrum as well as depression and anxiety. She told me this was an acute phase, so it wouldn’t last forever. She told me medication was the way to go because it was all due to chemical imbalances. When I got on medication, it really helped. I started a new job, which gave me something to do. I also found that going to the gym helped me. I got really motivated to be more physically fit and stronger, which helped me feel mentally stronger.

I still have some symptoms. I’m pretty happy day-to-day now, but I still have anxious tendencies and I’m still in therapy. I didn’t realize what I was struggling with until this summer, and it was eye-opening. I’m so much better today than I was. I’m so proud of myself because I’ve taken the right steps. I’ve seen myself change, and now I know I can overcome something like this.

My teammates have always supported me. Everyone just wanted to help me. Being a student athlete, I do feel a lot of pressure, but the biggest thing I think I’ve realized is that everyone is going through something. I’m sure soccer players are going through this, I’m sure football players are going through this. Just know that you’re not alone.”