COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — It was a year ago this month, Ohio State’s Harry Miller spoke his truth, stepping away from football to prioritize his mental health. Since then, it’s been quite the journey, from the TODAY show to an upcoming TEDx talk, and being invited as a guest of the First Lady to the State of the Union.
“So I took [the call] and got the rundown and they were like, hey we’re gonna do this. [Have you as a] guest of the State of the Union and what do you think? And I remember saying a prolonged three-second wow,” said Miller.
Every laugh and smile is small but not insignificant proof of how far Miller has come in a year. It was March 10, 2022, when Miller posted on social media that he was medically retiring from football. Not because of his physical health, but his mental health, revealing that months before he told Ohio State head coach Ryan Day of his intention to kill himself.
“I was playing college football. I was studying mechanical engineering. Everything was going exactly as it should but still, I felt this way. So I think that just served, fortunately, to legitimize that and make it a fair reality to accept for people to not easily dismiss it like others,” said Miller.
The response to his post was overwhelming. After an appearance on NBC’s TODAY show, his honest message of feeling pain but finding hope was taken nationwide.
“Talking about it now, it sort of feels like I had this Lego that I assembled with this really particular instruction booklet and it was pristine and perfect. But it was precariously on this high shelf and it fell and tumbled and it became all these scattered miscellaneous pieces. And I’ve been able to reassemble it into something that is much more in my image. Something that feels more of what I’m supposed to be doing,” said Miller.
He’s a new man now, both physically and mentally. He’s lost 80 pounds since his playing days. And he’s spreading his message of mental health wellness to any and all who will listen, using the hashtag, #DontMakeItWeird, to remind people it’s okay to discuss topics like depression and suicide.
“I would have a conversation with people who are taking care to not step on my toes, or say something that might bother me, but I found myself constantly saying ‘don’t make it weird’. It’s okay. It just felt very catchy. It felt like something I could picture Matthew McConaughey saying in a cool movie,” said Miller.
“I just understand that in this day today, that I will be fortunate to interact with a lot of people and run into a lot of people. And I’ve been able to run into a lot of people and interact with a lot of people who have helped me. And I hopefully will be able to help people out that I run into along the way.”
Miller, who was honored in November at the annual Art of Recovery Art Auction, was in Washington, D.C. this week, talking to lawmakers about possible legislation to address mental health challenges in student-athletes. He’s on track to graduate in December with a 4.0 GPA, with a degree in mechanical engineering.
For more information on the TEDx talk, he is giving on Saturday, March 4, including how you can watch in-person or via livestream, go to https://tedxohiostate.wixsite.com/tedxohiostateu/2023
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide or is in emotional distress, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or at suicidepreventionlifeline.org.