Marlar : Jessika Carter stares adversity down and wins

Bulldog forward Jessika Carter makes her way down the floor during earlier play. Carter was able to return to the team bench in the recent game against Missouri.

Adversity.

Lately, that seems to be the only word that comes to mind when discussing the Mississippi State University women's basketball team. For those familiar with the events of this season, this is nothing new. It has been the trend since before the first whistle of the year was blown, and it continues to be the trend as the Bulldogs are halfway through their SEC slate. 

Throughout all of it, though, interim head coach Doug Novak has played the hands he has been dealt, and he has played them exceptionally well, given the circumstances. If you were to ask Novak if he foresaw himself standing in the midst of his current situation in October of last year, he probably would have said no, and rightfully so. 

Losing an SEC leader in points per game is one thing, but some members of the women's squad have faced a much different, much coarser version of adversity. 

Throughout the course of the season, MSU has been undersized in the absence of Jessika Carter, the team's starting senior forward. When Carter broke news of her recent mental health struggles via Instagram, she gave fans a glimpse of her own adversity with her recent injuries and many other things. Carter broke news about her attempted suicide, and left a powerful message to fans and followers, no matter their allegiances.

"July 24th, the day I decided that I couldn't take it anymore. It was the day I decided to take my own life. I don't believe in giving up, but (that) day I decided to do just that. A bottle of Nyquil, 30-plus Tylenol p.m. and suffering liver damage, I still remain alive … After staying in the hospital a week, I thought I had it together. I promised I would never take life or anything for granted. (That) was a lie. I hid my depression until I started making bad decisions … I felt as if the world was against me, and that no one would ever see the real Jessika," Carter said. 

Carter then went on to detail her second attempt at suicide and her ascent out of the darkness.

"I continued to mask my depression until November 26. The second time that was supposed to be the final time I tried it. 25 codeine Tylenol and a trip to the hospital (and) I'm still here … I got sent to the facility this time. I hated the fact that I had to go, (but) this time was different. I didn't hate it. I made friends there that I will cherish for the rest of my life. You guys (those friends) helped me get out of a very dark space. You showed me that people care. (And) that I will always have people there even when they don't know me … check on y'all('s) loved ones, favorite players, etc … CHEERS to more life," Carter said. 

That takes courage the kind that not many have. Carter's battle has been something of awe to witness, and the other night, against Missouri, Carter was finally able to rejoin her teammates on the bench a welcome sign for not only Bulldog fans everywhere, but Novak himself. 

"The dangerous thing is having her close to the team, and having her close to that bench, and I'm looking down that bench and I see her. And it'll be for next year, but man, do I want to put her in right now," Novak said. 

As sure as we all are that Carter would love nothing more, she has re-enrolled in school and, as Novak has stated, will be ready to go for next season. There will be plenty more seasons for MSU women's basketball, but when combated with adversity, this team, this coach and this program have stood as tall as possible in the face of impending collapse, and for that, they deserve all of the thanks and praise in the world. 

There is still more than enough time left for the Bulldogs to make an NCAA tournament run after thumping Texas A&M and Missouri in back-to-back games. Only time will tell on that front, but either way, this is nothing short of a miracle season this team has put together, and it's not done yet. 

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