In April, Stokely Hathaway (Malcolm Bivens) was released by WWE. He reportedly turned down a contract offer in February, which he later confirmed to be true.
Hathaway was part of Diamond Mine on NXT TV alongside Roderick Strong, Ivy Nile, and the Creed Brothers (Brutus & Julius Creed).
Appearing on The Sessions with Renee Paquette, Stokely opened up about leaving WWE and his mental health struggles.
"It's really interesting because I think a lot of people looked at me as if I was the bad guy. I kind of get it, I do get it because I'm sure there are plenty of people who would kill to be in the position I was in. At the time, I just couldn't do it. I never really said why. I did a comedy show and alluded to it, but the wrong message came across from that show. To be completely honest, in February, I woke up one day and felt miserable. I felt, the right way would be 'crazy,' like I didn't know where I was or what was going on. It kind of went away and kept increasing to the point where it was debilitating. I voluntarily committed myself. It was on a Friday and I got out on Sunday. It was a very interesting experience. In Florida, it's like prison for the mentally ill. When I went in, I had no idea what I was in for. I was in kind of a cell, no real sheets, a metal frame that you laid on, the sink was one of those sinks that was rigged to motion detection. A little thing of soap and toothpaste. It was literally, couldn't go into your room until 8 - 9 pm, then wake up at 6 am. Walk the floors that was it. You walk to kill time. It was three days of that. After, I was like, 'Maybe I'm not as crazy as I thought,'" recalled Stokely.
He continued, "It was trying to just manage everything. I do regret leaning into the being funny thing. It's hard for people to take your seriously. Who am I to say, 'I feel this way, I feel that way,' I don't think there was really anyone to listen or that I could talk to. Then with social media, it's hard to take people seriously. I don't want to say it's a 'thing' to use mental health as a crutch, but I felt not one would believe me if I said I feel this way or that way. At that time, I didn't tell anybody. I wasn't on my phone because they take your phone away. I had minor communication. At one point, I had to fight to have my phone. I have a dog and he was at the dog sitters. I had to check in and we arranged it to where I could get my phone for a few minutes. After, I told people close to me that I could trust. Obviously, it worked because it didn't get out."
Stokely said that music therapy was part of his stay and overall, he didn't find things helpful as one may think.
Talking about the pressure he felt in NXT, he said, "For me, there was a lot of pressure, I always feel there is a lot of pressure because I feel, as a black talent, I get judged more harshly than other people. I feel everything I do is analyzed or over analyzed. Everyone gets a critique, but I feel mine is at a different level. I'm also incredibly hard on myself. I had to realize, it's wrestling. it's just wrestling. This isn't a live or die situation. It was just dealing with that. I regret leaning into the funny thing because I'm very introverted and closed off. I have this small circle of people I trust and I should probably utilize that."
Stokely said that praying has helped him with his mental health.
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, anxiety, or mental health reach out to someone or call 1-800-950-NAMI (6264). Check out NAMI to learn more.
If you use any of the quotes above, please credit the original source with a h/t and link back to Fightful for the transcription.