Orlando Pride's Ashlyn Harris Shares Addiction Experience To Help Others

By Britni de la Cretaz 08/15/17

The FIFA World Cup champion wants to let people battling addiction and mental health issues know that they are not alone.

Orlando Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris
Orlando Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris Photo via YouTube

Ashlyn Harris is the goalkeeper for the National Women’s Soccer League’s Orlando Pride team, as well as the U.S. Women’s National Team. She is a dynamic and passionate player on the field, and an outspoken advocate off it. As someone who has struggled with depression and mental health challenges, as well as witnessed drug and alcohol addiction in her family as a child, she chooses to use her platform to share her story and help others find healing and hope.

Harris’ journey that led her to speak out about these issues began when she found out about the non-profit To Write Love On Her Arms, which was founded by Jamie Tworkowski who hails from Harris' hometown, Satellite Beach, Florida.

“At the time, I was starting to get heavily addicted to Adderall, big time, and it wasn’t for ADHD,” Harris told the Orlando Sentinel recently. “Started having a ton of injuries, started losing a lot of weight, all these different things. And in that moment, everything came to a realization like, ‘Wow.’”

In a 2016 profile for Excelle Sports, Harris explained that she comes from a “family that was really hit hard with addiction.” She also said that “mental health has really shaken the foundation” of her family from the time she was a child. “The only way I knew how to deal with my emotions was to harm myself or harm others,” she told the publication.

Harris explained to Excelle that she wants to let people know they’re not alone, and that she feels like she has a responsibility to use her platform for good. “I feel like I have been put in a place where I can bring people together and maybe help them to a point where they feel they can enjoy something that’s bigger than their own inner-demons and thoughts and battles,” she said. Fans reach out to Harris on a daily basis to thank her, or to tell her that she saved their life.

She continues her work with To Write Love On Her Arms, which strives to offer hope to people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. Through her own healing process, Harris told the Orlando Sentinel that she’s found a healthy outlet for her emotional pain: tattoos. 

“I love tattoos because it’s a good form of pain for me,” she told the newspaper. “It’s almost like checking off all the painful things that I’ve been through. All these things on my body tell a story and it’s super deep and it’s super important and it reminds me I’m still here.”

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Britni de la Cretaz is a freelance writer, baseball enthusiast, and recovered alcoholic living in Boston. Follow her on Twitter at @britnidlc.