Parasports World talks to Megan Blunk (2)
Updated: Aug 10, 2021
Parasports World recently got the chance to catch up with Megan Blunk, who was part of USA’s gold medal winning Wheelchair Basketball team at the Rio Paralympics 2016.
The 26-year-old Gig Harbor resident talked openly and honestly about her battle with depression, how she handles the highs and lows of being a Paralympic star and of course…being too quick for the White House photographers. Check out part two of our conversation with Megan here…
You are very motivated and involved in social work. Tell us a little bit about your current projects and what plans you have for the future.
I’m doing my Masters in social work and then I am going to get certified to fit people in wheelchairs. I’m going to be an assisted technology professional. I just figured that out, and it feels good to know what I’m going to do.
Because I see all these kids and even adults in chairs that don’t fit them and that are holding them back. And some of the people who fit them for their chairs don’t know what they are doing or don’t have the passion for it, so I know that’s my calling.
You have maintained that things happen for a reason – and written in your blog about how important it is to remain positive through challenges. Tell us how you do it.
I think when you have depression you also have a lot of empathy for others. And it helps you appreciate when things are going well. Everyone with a disability is different too, and I want to change the way that people perceive us.
I want to always push myself and never settle, and I like that its hard. I like that its hard having a disability. I like the challenges. I want to be a stronger person always and this constantly makes me step back and analyse if I am doing the right things, and to hold my head up.
Social media – you have mentioned about how people want to only portray the positives. And you make it a point to write an open, honest blog, that’s admirable. Do you think that this trend of social media has deeper reaching (either positive or negative) effects than most people realise?
So I suck at social media! At times I am taking pictures and writing things and then I fall off of it for a couple of weeks. Every day then I think, ‘oh why didn’t I write that or post that’.
With the therapy I’ve been going through the last few months, I think I’ll write something and it will be great and meaningful, and once I have everything I need, I’ll post it.
But I also sometimes get to a point where I think, ‘why would they care about me? Why am I taking pictures of myself?’
Even though I have a lot of likes, I still think, ‘why would they care?’ I also used to think that so many adults and kids are using it to compare themselves to others, and that’s really negative. But now I do think that you can use it to fight back, and change the way things are. So I want to use it for good, rather than how it is often used. And it’s a part of my healing process too.
I’m going to reach a point where I’m going to share, and know that there’s no shame in being who I am. There will always be people who judge you and also people who will be really thankful that you shared.
Another reason why I share so much is that my whole life I’ve struggled with depression, and when I ask people, ‘don’t you cry? Don’t you struggle? Aren’t you insecure?’. And then they tell me ‘no, not really’.
At around say age 17, it makes you think there’s something wrong with you. The reality is that people are going through the exact same thing, but I don’t know why they just won’t be honest about it, and admit that they have insecurities. And I know how important it would have been for me to hear that back then, but I didn’t find many that would tell the truth.
I had to figure that out on my own. It’s scary because people put me on a pedestal. And when I started opening up, I felt like I was disappointing people. They wanted me to be this perfect person, who is strong all of the time. They wanted a superhero, and then I see a look of disappointment on their face. But they need to know that that’s not the case, it always going to be a fight.
You had the opportunity to visit the White House and President Obama. Tell us about this experience.
That was awesome. Obama and Michelle and Biden are such genuine people, it just felt good being around them.
I feel very, very bad though because all the Olympians and Paralympians got to shake their hand.
And I felt bad for them because I thought they don’t want to do this, so I sped up. And they only got a picture of me pushing away.
Is Tokyo 2020 on the cards?
I am also thinking about going to play overseas for a few years. I hope I get the opportunity to do that. But I am definitely going to try out for Tokyo 2020.
I don’t feel like I am really done yet, I have so much more to give. I want to be a role model for Alex and Penny, the little twins, and so many kids that have disabilities, I want to be able to do that for them.
What would your advice be to somebody with a disability who wants to get into sport, either through para-sport or through mainstream sport?
Just knowing that there’s always a way. No matter what, say even if you have one arm you can still play wheelchair basketball.
I’ve seen guys out there who are out there, amazing shooters, dribbling and playing with one arm! So just know that there’s no normal, and there’s no certain way you have to do things.
--END OF PART TWO-- Interview by Pritha Chakravarti for ParasportsWorld
All Images Courtesy of Megan Blunk
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