Former NFL and Boise State wide receiver Titus Young, a second-round pick who had his career cut short by clashes with coaches and teammates, is currently serving a sentence of four years in a Los Angeles prison for an assault on his neighbor. That assault is the culmination of a series of legal and off-field problems that Young attributes to both bipolar disorder and brain trauma caused by playing football.
The Los Angeles Times reached out to Young for an interview, and in response he shared with them a 141-page diary written in early 2017 when he was spending days in lockdown. In the diary, Young wrote about his mental health struggles, which were first made public by his father in 2013. Young was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at a UCLA neuropsychiatric hospital after he was released from the NFL, and he wrote in the diary about hearing voices, which Young says robbed him of control over his life.
“Hearing voices is no joke, it’s actually very scary. I feel like someone is trying to come kill me,” Young wrote.
As the Times article notes, there’s some debate over whether brain trauma from football has had any effect on Young’s mental state. A psychologist at a facility called the Crosby Center, where Young was ordered to receive treatment after punching his attorney, said the Young’s bipolar disorder was a misdiagnosis, and instead Young suffered from CTE. Young himself doesn’t claim to know the cause of his mental health issues, but he does shed some light on how his mind works in the diary. From the article:
“My fight or flight in my brain was off and that could be due to head trauma suffered while playing football,” Young wrote in the diary, a year after the arrest and a stay at Metropolitan State Hospital in Norwalk. “All I know now is I’m back to normal and I take good medication and I’m not ashamed of it either.
“It’s kind of hard for me to think wisely in sticky situations where I feel threatened. Taking the medicine allows my mood to be stabilized and helps with hearing voices. Yeah, I have heard voices, as well. The voices came and came from the bipolar. It’s usually when I let my brain relax and focus on others. I can kind of hear them.”
Young also writes multiple times about making a comeback, and he’s clearly still motivated to play in the NFL. “When I make this comeback to the league, God and the rest will understand that athletes are not exempt in mental illness,” he writes. Young is eligible for a parole hearing in March.