Alliance Profile - John Booty
NFL Defensive Back for the New York Jets, the Philadelphia Eagles, the Phoenix Cardinals, the New York Giants, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
What past life experiences, physical traumas or genetics do you believe have had an effect on your mental health?
I grew up with three brothers and five sisters. My brother Joe is ten years older than I and since I could walk he started getting me tough. I remember that I wanted to be like him and so I idolized him. I looked up to him and he was my hero. He was an athlete, a good student, and a hard worker when he graduated high school. He worked construction with our dad and another brother. Around the age of ten or eleven, he started dating a lady who I didn’t care for because she was taking away my big brother from me. He eventually married her and I got to go stay at their apartment some but not often. Some time passed and eventually, they got divorced.
From a strong vibrant young man to seeing him back home laying around, sleeping with tears rolling down his face, I would just observe and wonder what was going on with him. He began to drink more and get drunk but not violently. It got so bad that he got several DWI’s to the point one night he was pulled over for driving super fast and drunk and put in jail. That particular night when my mom found out about it, it hurt her so much that dad had to take her to the emergency room. He spent time in jail and eventually was sent to prison.
I saw the hurt in our dad’s face one time that he went to visit him. I saw how my mom and my other siblings acted when he was sent to prison. I shut him out. As a kid, I was hurt because I felt he let me down and hurt our parents! As long as he was in prison, I never wrote to him because I was angry with him. A few years later when he got out, he asked why, but I didn’t answer. There was distance between us of my doing. As a kid, I didn’t know what he was dealing with. He didn’t know I guess. He was broken-hearted from his divorce and it drove him to drink and spiral downhill. Even after getting out, he drinks, to this day. I eventually told him my reasons for not writing and asked him to forgive me, in front of our parents, at a family gathering. I had made up my mind that I was not going to hurt my parents like that and I would live to honor them. I had other siblings that made mistakes too that I did not want to follow.
Now, I’ve gone through my fair share of things like betrayals, divorce, bad business partners, to even a not so good church elder that I left the church. I went through some form of what my brother went through, depression but I remembered what I promised my parents and what I wanted my daughters to see in me. I was and am fortunate for family and friends support that helps me through low points of my life. I thank my brother that because of his experiences I learned a lot. He’s soon to be 65 years old and living life day by day with our sister and he still drinks but she’s on his case. We still got love for him.
How did the effects on your mental health appear in terms of symptoms?
Through the traumatic situations, I was more embarrassed and drained mentally but I was fortunate to have a few good friends and loving parents and family to support me. At work or in public, I was myself but when I was alone I was good with it. My mind raced a lot because I couldn’t believe what had gone on.
My daughter’s situation is what really got to me. My mindset was focused on her. My dating life suffered and my sleeping pattern was off because my mind was racing because she was on my mind. In public I was normal but in private felt foggy and mind racing.
When and why did you decide to ask for help to get relief?
With the divorce, business and church I did all I could to make it all work and fight what was mine. So, even though I was angry at all those situations, I just stayed away from it. I would workout, go for long walks, get around positive people and get back home to be around family and friends. So, that was my help.
But with my daughter’s situation, that angered me and scared me, I started seeing a therapist through the Trust Powered by the NFLPA. Being able to talk with professionals helped. But because of the actions of my daughter’s mom, I was a very angry person and needed to work on that. I do believe in praying and meditating, long walks even after working out. Talking to positive people and getting involved in positive charities and football clinics were a big big help!
What methods helped you individually get/feel better?
Walks, working out, basketball, charity football games, writing, meditation, being mindful of myself and my image, supporting charities and helping others helped. I got back into teaming up or starting new ventures. My personal relationship with God gives me strength.
No prescription medication or drugs at all. I drink socially but not to suppress or make myself numb.
Why did you decide to go public with your story? Who were/are you hoping to help and how?
I’m hoping to help my daughters because they inspire me to do my best. So, they are my therapy. I want to live up to my parents and family’s expectations. I want to show that we athletes are human beings too and that we have tons of stresses in life and that we should seek help when needed! I hope to help everyone from my family to a stranger to my athletic brotherhood!
How did people react when you went public with your story?
I’ve told some friends and family and have done a podcast and a sit down interview with Active Minds but not in real detail but they admire me and say they are proud of me for being strong enough to seek help.
This is the first to go in what will be further discussions.