Herschel Walker's Battle with D.I.D.
By Shawn Brown
The 700 Club
Herschel Walker was one of the most powerful running backs in college and NFL history. Because of his combination of strength and speed he’s one of the greatest in the game. The 1982 Heisman trophy winner spent 15 years in professional football. But the side you may not know, is shortly after he retired, he was diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, also known as multiple personality disorder or D.I.D.
D.I.D is a condition in which a single person displays multiple distinct personalities known as alters, each with its own type of behavior. For Herschel, it started a long time ago when he was a physically challenged first grader in the rural town of Wrightsville, Ga.
“I was a little bit overweight, and had a stuttering problem,” Herschel said. “I used to be afraid of the dark; I was scared to death of the dark. I remember as a little boy, I used to go outside to play real hard; my nose would bleed. I don’t know what that was. And I couldn’t run; I had these big old knots that swelled and stuff on my knees.”
Herschel grew up in a Christian family. He was one of seven children. Unlike his siblings, it was hard for him to fit in at school.
“I didn’t love myself. I didn’t love who I was,” Herschel said, “having a stuttering problem, kids picking on the way you spoke, picking on your weight.”
Herschel’s struggles continued up until the seventh grade. He realized that if things were going to change they needed to start with him.
“You create your Incredible Hulk inside you. In the sense that you create somebody that’s going to take control, somebody that’s never going to give up,” Herschel said.
Herschel read out loud to himself everyday until his speech got better. He made a daily workout routine in junior high school, which normally included 1500 push ups and 2500 sit-ups! Before long his strength surpassed everyone he knew and things changed. Herschel decided to play football and run track. Now instead of being the underdog, he was an athletic superstar.
“Like my mother said, 'If you’re going to do anything, do it well. Do it as if Jesus were watching you'. And I knew that if I was going to waste my time like that, I might as well play and do the best I could," Herschel said.
His habit of pushing himself also paid off in the classroom and he graduated valedictorian of his class! With a full football scholarship, he attended the University of Georgia, where in just three years he won the Heisman trophy. But instead of playing his senior year, he entered the newly formed United States Football League, with the New Jersey Generals. The league folded and in 1986 he entered the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys. After retiring in 1997, he began to notice disturbing changes in his behavior.
“When you start wearing a hat - that you wear this red hat for football, you wear the white hat for home, you wear the blue hat for work. But all of a sudden when you leave home, you put on the red hat; you put it on at home. The hat's all screwed up. So now, that aggressive nature that you had in football is now at home because you put on the wrong hat,” he explained.
Herschel lost his ability to distinguish his role in football from his role at home and his wife became the target of his anger.
“I was out of the game. I had been out of the game for about four years and I developed this anger problem. And not that I developed it; it just manifested itself a little more severe. It totally destroyed my relationship with Cindy. I put a gun to her head, things that she said I was doing; she knew that wasn’t me,” Herschel said.
Though he didn’t pull the trigger, his wife Cindy left him, and a broken Herschel sought psychiatric help, as well as help from his pastor Tony Evans; and his healing process began.
“While he was getting professional counseling on one side, I was providing kind of spiritual direction on the other side. What I see is God using this episode in Herschel’s life for His glory and greater witness. What it says is that Jesus Christ can heal and be the foundation of healing for the deepest kind of soul disorders,” Pastor Evans said.
After months of prayer and drawing closer to God, Herschel was healed. Today he’s doing better than ever. Though he’s nearly 50, he says he’s in the best shape of his life. In the NFL, Herschel currently ranks eighth in total yards. But according to Herschel, that’s not what’s important.
“What I want all of the viewers to know is that I’ve been blessed all my life,” he said. “Jesus kept me out of prison. He kept me from harming someone. He kept me from harming myself. And I think that’s the biggest thing. Because it’s going to be tough. Like I said, Satan is always going to throw curve balls. But what you got to do is not be afraid to stand up at the plate and keep swinging. Because when you have God, you can’t strike out. You can just swing all you want.”
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