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Bubba Wallace finished 10th in the NASCAR season finale at Phoenix, tying for his best-ever career finish at the mile-long track. That result produced another career-best — 10th in the final points standings. And the cherry on top was his best friend, Ryan Blaney, won the 2023 Cup Series championship.

Despite all that goodness in the 23XI Racing driver’s life, he found himself wide awake in the middle of the night, hours after taking the final checkered flag of the season, not celebrating but questioning everything about his life and completely void of emotion. Unsurprisingly, his critics came out in full force. And in the process, they revealed just how willfully ignorant they truly are about an issue that affects many people, likely including some in their own families. 

Bubba Wallace celebrates with Ryan Blaney

Bubba Wallace started fifth at Phoenix. He ran inside the top 10 throughout the race and finished 10th. But the bigger story for the 30-year-old driver and the rest of NASCAR was that longtime friend Ryan Blaney won the 2023 Cup Series title.  

Moments after the Team Penske driver’s burnout celebration and interview, the No. 12 pilot rolled over to the championship celebration area. But before he arrived, he was stopped and greeted by Wallace, who leaned in the window, hugged him, and shared a few private words.

Before that impromptu meeting, Wallace shared his emotions of the moment after watching his friend reach the pinnacle of NASCAR. 

“It’s incredible. It’s emotional for me,” Wallace admitted to “Hell, we raced together since we were 10. I know how much it means to him. And to have a redemption year from last year, what a job! I’m so proud of him.”  

Bubba Wallace details his depression

Hours later, after congratulating his buddy and returning to North Carolina, Wallace found himself awake in the middle of the night. He wasn’t partying or celebrating Blaney’s victory. Instead, he was facing his depression, which he’s also discussed in the past, straight in the face. And he shared details of his experience with his fans on Instagram: 

“Currently, 3:42am.. sitting here on the couch questioning everything and I have no idea why. Climbed from the car today with little to no emotion. Frustrated with how our race ended and ending the #6 team’s top10 run. 

“You would think your bud winning the championship would bring that joy and excitement back. Sadly it did not. You would think having a career year and capping it off with a p10 in points would bring the happiness back. Sadly it did not. 

“I’ve always said music is my go to for the dark moments. 5 hour plane ride back and I rode in complete silence for 3.5 of those. It’s the helpless feeling that really kicks ya…my wife can see that I’m off but I don’t have the what or the why that I’m feeling this way to allow her to help me. 

“To my peeps out there staring at a blank wall, I’m with you. Tomorrow is another day. Another opportunity. Keep after it.

“We gon be alright”

Critics show their willful ignorance   

Bubba Wallace, like any other driver, is accustomed to receiving criticism for his on-track performance. However, as the only Black driver in the Cup Series, he’s also used to receiving unfair criticism for other obvious reasons. Unsurprisingly, many of those same haters are vocal when he openly discusses his anxiety and depression. They did just that on social media after his latest Instagram remarks.  

“Weak,” one person responded on Facebook.

“One of the best jobs on the planet and can’t be happy,” wrote another. “Man just enjoy the ride. Be thankful.”

“Just looking for attention and to be relevant,” said another.

There were countless more comments like that. All of them, unbeknownst to their authors, reveal their willful ignorance about mental health issues and their prevalence in society. A lot of it can be attributed to the macho stereotype of the man who is supposed to be “tough” and how those who bring up these real issues in their own lives are somehow viewed as weak. 

It’s actually the opposite.

Wallace openly sharing his situation shows just how strong he is because he’s calculated the risk-reward ratio and understands that the risk of being criticized, which will always happen to him, is outweighed by the benefits of sharing his experience with others and possibly, in some way, helping out others in similar situations.

Providing someone who might be in a dark place with the smallest glimmer of hope through his words might be life-changing and a win Wallace will never be able to replicate on the race track.

How to get help: In the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Or text HOME to 741-741 to connect with a trained crisis counselor at the free Crisis Text Line.

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