Profile: Todd Blylevan
Sports Technology & Brand Expert • TEDx Speaker- Inspirational Keynote Speaker • Former Pro Athlete & MLB Scout • Mass Shooting Survivor
What past life experiences, physical traumas or genetics do you believe have had an effect on your mental health?
The most significant life event that profoundly affected my mental health was surviving the Las Vegas mass shooting. The physical and emotional trauma from that night left me with intense aniety, nightmares, and a deep sense of isolation. Additionally, growing up in a sports environment where emotions were often suppressed, and the “tough it out” mentality prevailed, contributed to my struggle with vulnerability and mental health. However, these challenges led me to seek help and embark on a healing journey, which transformed my life, teaching me that embracing vulnerability and seeking support are signs of strength, not weakness, Now, my mission is to inspire others to do the same, sharing my story of resilience and advocating for mental health awareness.
How did the effects on your mental health appear in terms of symptoms?
The Las Vegas shooting and subsequent trauma left me with overwhelming emotions of fear, aniety, and a profound sense of vulnerability. I struggled with nightmares and the constant replay
When and why did you decide to ask for help to get relief?
I initially attempted to cope on my own, reflecting the tough mentality instilled in me. However, the emotional and physical toll. including persistent headaches, nightmares and difficulty functioning, led me to seek professional help around five to si months after the Las Vegas shooting. It became evident that my own coping mechanisms were insufficient to manage these overwhelming feelings. The decision to seek therapy was driven by both the unimaginable pain I was enduring and the unwavering support and advice from friends who had eperienced similar traumas. Therapy, particularly EMDR, became transformative, allowing me to find relief, understanding and new coping strategies, while reshaping my perspective on mental health from a sign of weakness to one of strength.
What methods helped you individually get/feel better?
Individual practices that have significantly improved my wellbeing include therapy, especially EMDR which helped me process trauma and find healing, Additionally, seeking support from peer groups and engaging in open conversations about mental health has been invaluable. Embracing vulnerability and approachability in my daily life., thanks to therapy, has allowed me to connect with others more deeply, fostering empathy and love. Finally maintaining a strong faith has been a guiding light throughout my journey, providing strength and purpose in moments of adversity.
Why did you decide to go public with your story? Who were/are you hoping to help and how?
I decided to share my story because I believe it has the power to inspire, uplift and help others who have faced adversity and struggled with mental health challenges. Through my eperiences, I aim to break the stigma surrounding mental health, especially among men, and encourage people to embrace vulnerability and approachability as signs of strength. My hope is that by sharing my journey, I can foster empathy, compassion, and open dialogue, ultimately helping individuals to realise they are not alone and inspiring them to seek help and support when needed.
How did people react when you shared your story of overcoming obstacles?When I shared my story of overcoming obstacles, people reacted with a mi of surprise, empathy, and inspiration. Many were moved by my journey and the resilience I displayed in the face of adversity, It sparked meaningful conversations about mental health and vulnerability, and I noticed that my openness encouraged others to share their struggles as well. Overall, the response was incredibly positive, reinforcing my belief in the power of storytelling to connect with and inspire others