More than a year after leaving Washington, former receiver Isaiah Renfro spoke with The Today Show on Wednesday about battling anxiety and depression while discussing how he attempted suicide twice.
Renfro, who now goes by Isaiah Woods, was interviewed by Megyn Kelly for a new series called “Stressed Out Teens” that speaks with youth who’ve struggled with their mental health.
“I’m doing good. Great actually,” Woods said in the interview. “I’m a completely different person, just looking back. Kinda feels like I got a second chance at life to re-do everything over in a better way.”
Woods played one season at UW. He caught 13 passes for 178 yards in 2015 before announcing in May 2016 that he was leaving the program to recover from anxiety and depression.
At the time, he wrote on Twitter that he checked himself into a hospital and was in a special program to help him cope, “with my problems and what to do when I hit my lowest of lows.”
Woods told The Today Show that everything around him seemed “dark” and that he did not want to get out of bed.
He said he was having panic attacks and had trouble breathing because of them.
“It got worse and worse, just to the point where I knew I had to ask for help,” he said. “Because I’m the person who will never let something break me. I’m always, like I said, the strong one between my friends.
“I don’t like asking for help, I’m very stubborn in that area.”
That’s when Woods checked himself into the University of Washington Medical Center for treatment, according to The Today Show.
“I got a call from him when he was in the hospital,” Woods’ mother, Chieko, said. “And I’m thankful that he had the wherewithal to pick up the phone because he could have made so many other choices.”
Woods said was in a “holding cell” area with nothing on the walls. He recalled speaking with a social worker for about two or three hours and was then admitted into the program.
Kelly asked Woods if he considered taking his own life.
“I did,” Woods said. “Twice actually.”
Woods said he made two suicide attempts.
“I think it wasn’t a call for help,” he said. “It was like I was ready to go basically. I know it sounds, like, blunt and everything but I was done. I didn’t feel like I could get anywhere. I felt stuck. I felt like I just needed to go.”
Woods said “something felt different” on the night he checked himself into the hospital. He recalled speaking with his psychiatrist, who met with him and helped him get admitted into the UW Medical Center.
When Woods announced he was leaving UW, he took to Twitter. He told Kelly that he initially wrote a generic statement but opted to post something more authentic about what he was going through.
In his note, Woods wrote about stepping away from football so he can continue improving his health.
“This isn’t the end of me, just the end of a certain chapter,” he wrote. “I will conquer this, and not let this situation conquer me. I’m on a journey to find my happiness again.”
Kelly asked Woods if he’s found that happiness.
“I have, I have,’ he said. “Sitting here today, I just wake up feeling happy. I’m ready to start the day.”
Woods said he will play college football next season at an undisclosed school that wasn’t UW.
“I knew at that time what I was going through, wasn’t going to stop me from all the success that I wanted to bring to my life,” he said. “I’m just really past that point now. I still deal with day-to-day things. Little stuff like that but from the dark spot I was in, I am way far past that.”
Ryan S. Clark: @ryan_s_clark