To answer the million-dollar question (or rather the hundred-dollar question): Yes, MTV did do a special about my health condition. No, it was not Catfish, but YES, it was the same guy who did host several seasons of Catfish. MTV created a new show, Suspect, that had hosts Nev Schulman and IO Tillett Wright investigate truth behind secrets family members or close friends may have been keeping from those who care about them. The deceptions ranged from secret identities, hidden addictions, to health issues, all secrets that needed intervention to prevent relationships from deteriorating.
My “secret” dealt with my health, a brain condition called hydrocephalus. I discovered the issue my first year in university, but thought nothing of it. It wasn’t until 2011 when it became worse, causing me to undergo chemotherapy treatment. It was surely a rough time in my life, especially since I chose to go through it alone. That choice to go through it alone grew to be a complex problem that I still battle today.
I did not tell my family because I felt as if it was my punishment, I felt as if I let them down. Given the circumstances of what was going on that year, they have gone through enough already on my behalf. I lost a contract from Nike that provided money I promised my family. I disgraced the community of my university and the coaches that trusted me. I felt it only right that nobody else should have to endure more pain because of me, so I kept quiet.
When MTV approached me to highlight my struggle, I agreed, but only with the hopes to gain market exposure and possibly gain endorsements and funding. That did not happen. I made the least amount of money this season then in my whole career. Whoops. And, for those who know me, know I could care less about being famous, so that was not the reason.
To clarify, the production team did a great job at creating a storyline within the show to help the audience follow along. But, to speak truth now that it has premiered over the world, I knew all that was going on except the result of the MRI. I certainly did not agree to appear on the show for an intervention. Anyone who knows of an “ambush” would run away as far as possible.
Before the filming, I told myself that the other reason I will do it is to hopefully share this story so to help whoever is battling their own struggle. It wasn’t until afterwards, that I believed that. Why would I tell myself a lie of noble cause if I did not believe in it, fully at least? I thought it could bring me peace. I thought it could save me from myself.
Hiding my “secret” from family and friends was me settling for this illusion of peace I hope to create. My hopes were that once the show came out, everything could solve itself. I quickly learned, nobody accidentally finds peace. Filming was the easy part. Hearing the stories of the struggles people shared with me afterward was the hard part. I was forced to finally reflect the truth behind my struggles.
I am grateful for the opportunity MTV has given me, but then again, who wouldn’t be happy to appear on television around the world. However, I am even more grateful that I shared my story, and more importantly, people reacted. I have yet to watch the episode, but to hear an Olympic stadium cheer for me when I walked on the track, shows me that many other people did watch. Instead, they don’t cheer for me, but with me because of the story I brought out for themselves. Share your story, the true story, whether struggle, triumph, or failure, because holding it inside with create no benefit for you or the world.
Watch episode here: Season 1 Episode 4
Do you have your own story of life you want to share? I want to hear
Jeremy Dodson is a Track & Field Olympian who struggles with the idea of perfection, hoping to break the barrier we place on ourselves so that genuine living can take place for everyone.