Lyndsey Fennelly Shares Her Personal Mental Health Story!

Lyndsey Fennelly looks like she has everything.

She is loved because she was a great basketball player at Iowa State University. She is good at running a business. She has two adorable children. She is also married to Iowa State assistant basketball coach Billy Fennelly, who she has been with since 2003 when she was a freshman and “quietly dating the coach’s son.”

But Lyndsey Fennelly will talk about something else at the Story County Mental Health Expo on Tuesday as the keynote speaker. The free event will take place at Iowa State’s Memorial Union from 6 to 8:30 p.m.

At 7:30 p.m., Fennelly will talk about her journey with mental health, and then people can ask her questions.

She told the Ames Tribune, “I was first told I had a mental illness in 2013.”

She had a lot of LinkedIn contacts, Twitter followers, and Facebook friends when she got that news. “I was never going to tell anyone that I had just spent 15 days at Mary Greeley for behavioural problems,” Fennelly said.

She said she swept it under the rug and was just going to try to sleep better. She didn’t want to get sick. She didn’t think she was sick enough to need help.

Fennelly said she made a mistake when she linked mental illness to bad things she saw in the news, like a crazy gunman or a person who tried to kill themselves.

“I feel like the happiest person I know who has a mental illness. I didn’t want to be called that, “she told me. “I knew I had a voice, but my ego told me, ‘I’m not going to tell anyone that there’s something wrong with me.’


Georges Niang helped Lyndsey Fennelly go public with her mental illness

Five years have passed. They had two kids together. They worked together to build businesses.

They were going in the right direction.

“People who were looking in from the outside must have thought, ‘She’s got it all together,'” she said.

In 2018, the group fell apart, and Fennelly spent 21 days in the hospital for the second time.

“I had a feeling that if I talked about it, it might help someone else. And in the end, it would help me, too, because I had to take the medicine this time or else. This time, I had to go to therapy once every two weeks or face consequences.

“What did ‘or else’ mean? I wasn’t sure, but I didn’t want to take my family there. Like, would Billy have left me if I hadn’t taken this seriously this time?”

About a week after Fennelly got out of the hospital after her three-week stay, she called Georges Niang, another Iowa State basketball star.

“Georges and I work together to run a golf tournament and a camp, and we talk a lot, especially in the spring,” she said.

Fennelly was a star on the women’s basketball team at Iowa State. She has become an advocate for mental health in recent years, and on Tuesday she will be the keynote speaker at the Story County Mental Health Expo.
Fennelly didn’t have her phone with her while she was in the hospital, so he asked her what was going on.

“At that point, I started to cry a little. “I told her, “Well, I’ve been in the hospital for a mental health problem.”

It seemed like a long time, but it was only a few seconds of silence. Fennelly thought it was over and that he didn’t want to keep going to their camp and golf event.

As if reading Fennelly’s mind, Niang then added, “So that’s why you send me those insane emails at 2 a.m.”

Everything became perfectly ordinary after he did it. She recalled thinking at the time, “If Georges is ready to still look at me as who I am and collaborate with me on this event and have my back — I’ll tell anybody.” That was the impact of his reply, I tell you.

Lyndsey Fennelly Shares Her Personal Mental Health Story
Lyndsey Fennelly Shares Her Personal Mental Health Story

Fennelly’s diagnosis had been a source of shame for a long time. She had always rejected it.

However, “his response gave me the strength to be like, ‘Let’s go,'” she reflected.

A few weeks later, Fennelly made an unofficial post describing his time spent in a mental health facility. She has shared “organic storytelling” of her experience with multiple groups over the past four years.

You shouldn’t feel bad about needing assistance. Embracing your human flaws is encouraged. It is OK to consult a psychiatrist or therapist and consider the use of medicines. As she put it, “it’s not a show of weakness.”

Lyndsey Fennelly found she couldn’t coach herself out of mental illness

Fennelly struggled to understand, as a native of the athletic world, that she could not train her way to health.

Since Fennelly decided to speak out about mental health issues, she has told her experience to over 13,000. Through, she can network with educational institutions and other groups.

People on the outside couldn’t understand it, and that’s probably what drew them to my story. It was something along the lines of, “If Lyndsey could be struggling, maybe we could talk about what I’m struggling with, too,” she explained. I don’t mean to seem conceited, because I don’t consider myself better than everyone else. However, I am aware that my surname is relatively common. Many people in the area are aware of my basketball career.

The life of a person who appeared to have everything served as an inspiration to Fennelly. It wasn’t a well-known athlete, but rather Mariah Carey, the queen of pop.

While Fennelly was in the hospital in April of 2018, an article about Carey opening out about her issues with mental illness appeared in People magazine.

Fennelly remarked, “That was the turning point for me.” No, I didn’t want to face my problems head-on and then try to escape from them.

Fennelly’s keynote address at the Story County expo will include her desire to tell her story to assist others who may be struggling with similar issues.

Stay tuned for more updates at

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