Mental Health and You

In the last few years, society in general has been more accepting of mental health issues and the people who have them. For many of us who have our own struggles with various mental illnesses, to see baseball players who also struggle with these illnesses find acceptance and not only live but thrive is empowering.

Anxiety disorders, such as social anxiety, are wide sweeping illnesses that affects millions of Americans. Someone you know and love might even have it, and you don’t know it. There are different levels of symptoms. It’s not just intense shyness in public, but a distinct set of disorders that vary.

zack-greinkeThe poster boy of mental health in baseball, for better or worse, is Zack Greinke. His battle with social anxiety is well known. People like myself who have social anxiety disorder (among other things) look at Zack and see an inspiration, someone who has overcome a lot and has become one of the best players of a generation. For those who do not understand anxiety disorders, he is the butt of every cheap crazy joke, despite the fact that with proper diagnosis and medication, he rarely has symptoms anymore.

Greinke took a year off to get his life under control. His illness affected him to the point that it could have destroyed the one thing he loves the most: playing baseball.

 

In 2o12, an article published on the MLB.com site referenced this quote from Dr. Charles Brady, a specialist in the field of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Anxiety. [Emphasis mine.]

Anxiety has two parts of it. It has a psychological part, but it’ll change the breathing rate, heart rate and muscle tension, and so it will have a real physical impact on the person. One thing we know about anxiety, it’s not a matter of intelligence or courage or willpower. When anxiety hits, until you understand what’s going on your body, no matter who it is, that person’s going to feel like their body’s falling apart. They’re going to feel like they’re dying. They’re going to feel like they’re losing their mind.

This is all true. If you’ve ever had a panic attack, you know the horror of trying to calm yourself down. Earlier this year I had one in the bathroom while out with a friend, and it took everything inside of me to take deep breaths and center myself enough to go back out there so that they wouldn’t notice I had just freaked the hell out. Social anxiety, for many people, is like a prolonged panic attack; one that robs you of your joy for life or even coping mechanisms to help you deal with things that, logically, you know isn’t true.

For people with anxiety, whether social or generalized, the fear of being judged, being the center of attention, of being talked about “behind your back” is irrational yet it consumes your everyday life. In many instances, people who have social anxiety, or anxiety disorders in general, have other forms of mental illness. Many times, a person will have social anxiety, depression, and/or some other personality disorder, such as avoidant personality disorder or obsessive compulsive disorder. Imagine being a famous athlete who is already being scrutinized. The mounting pressure put on yourself (or by others) to be perfect can be overwhelming. Now, add this volatile mix into the equation, and you’ll see why it can be a serious issue.

This is the case for J.P. Arencibia. The catcher who is best known for his stint with the Blue Jays has been battling with severe anxiety so bad that he considered quitting baseball.

Instead of being zoned in on baseball, Arencibia would lie in bed and stare at the ceiling, questioning himself. How can I get better? What can I do? Why am I not doing this?

Arencibia said he “could not get out of my own head.” He wanted to live a normal life. He was ordering dinner to his house as a way to avoid people who may have seen him struggle on the field. He would rather be a space cadet, Arencibia said, than continue to use Adderall.

He would walk into a restaurant and wonder why everyone was staring at him. No one was staring,  Arencibia said. It was just the anxiety he was living with. It was a tough time, he said.

He started seeing a sports psychologist who took him off of Adderall and switched his medication to Lexapro. Arencibia has seen marked improvement in his anxiety issues and is having fun playing the game he loves again.

For every Greinke or Arencibia who takes medication and is able to deal with his anxiety, there’s a Joey Votto, who underwent counseling for his depression and anxiety, or a Khalil Greene, who would purposely injure himself and eventually left professional baseball altogether. Every person is different, and no one deals with their disorders the same, nor does every method of treatment work in the same

Me, for example? When I was first diagnosed with my issues, I took Zoloft, the same medication that ZG is on. While it helps him tremendously, for me it was akin to taking a sugar pill. It did absolutely nothing. Four dosage changes and two other medications later, I found something that helped while I was going through therapy to learn non-chemical ways of dealing with the worst of my anxiety and depression, then slowly (with doctor’s assistance) weaned myself off of the medication (it worked a little too well, leaving me without the ability to feel any sort of genuine happiness or sadness whatsoever, and I did not want to go through life that way).

Millions of Americans have the same issues that Greinke, Votto, and I do. It can no longer be a dirty secret, and I applaud these men who don’t have to be open about their issues, but have learned that it’s nothing to be ashamed of, making it easier for people like me to hold our heads high and not be ashamed, either.

29 thoughts on “Mental Health and You

  1. Anxiety is the scourge of our modern day society. When I get report on a patient, I tell the CRNA to tell me when they don’t have anxiety. Most do. Really, you are so not alone. It’s very common and there should be no shame. I would smack someone down who tried to disparage someone with mental health struggles. I do not tolerate bullies well.

    What pressure to be perfect? Anyone here perfect? Oh, shut up, no, you’re not. I see that anal wart all the way from here. And everyone has fucking hemorrhoids. Yes, even you, you perfect specimen. Go ahead and take that ultimate selfie, you’ll see.

    I bet this format attracts a lot of people with social anxiety disorder, since the lack of face to face contact allows for a lot of intimacy. This is the perfect place for an excrutiatingly shy person. I always wanted to do a study about the types of people who are drawn to comment–it’s fascinating.

    You’re truly a beautiful human inside and out. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Getting to talk to and hear from people with social anxiety disorder is a gold mine for all of us. Getting to learn things about other peoples lives, and getting to reveal things about our own lives, which sometimes are too painful / private to tell without some degree of anonymity is a gold mine for all of us.

      Although it varies greatly in impact, we all have “mental health” issues, and the more we can learn from each other the better.

      Liked by 5 people

  2. Haha…not gonna lie, when I saw the title my first thought is that you guys were going to have an intervention on old Slappy for my comments on Rens last post!

    Anyway….I’m pretty much an extrovert and I love crowds, big cities and even strangers. This election season though? I’m terrified of saying the wrong thing in my usual snarky absurdist way. It’s like I’m terrified of accidentally meeting a republican.

    If you’re a trump supporter, I know that you’re stupid and are uninformed, hostile, hate women and are probably racist….not all trump supporters are racist, but all racist are trump supporters!

    If you’re a cruz supporter, I know that you’re a delusional religious zealot who wants to watch the world burn just hoping to get to laugh at all of the non-believers who will allegedly suffer and burn for eternity while you rapture the FUCK out!

    If you’re a kascick supporter, I know that you’re a trump supporter who just likes to put on the appearance of civility until you’re home and you get to get out your aggression on the wife and kids!

    If you’re a rubio supporter, I know that you love twinks and foam parties but secretly hate yourself!

    If you’re a jeb! supporter, then you haven’t learned a fucking thing in 15 years and you are hopeless and white and probably went to an Ivy league school!

    If you’re a carson supporter, how are you able to live unassisted without hospital care?

    If you’re a paul supporter, libertarianism is stupid and will never work in the real world unless your city has like nine fucking people in it….good luck with that!

    If you’re a jindal supporter, then you should just jump in front of traffic because after Katrina and the new horizon oil spill…..well…that’s the “good old days” compared to what you have now!

    If you’re a christie supporter, who am I fooling…..there is no such thing as a christie supporter!

    See what I mean? I know that they call it ” election mania” but that is not a diagnosis!
    I’m slowly getting afraid of interactions now…that’s never happened before in my life and I lived through reagan’s reign of terror!

    Maybe I need that intervention after all!

    I realize that I never capitalized the first letter of their names but they are all jokes so fuck them!😉

    Like

    • Imagine how far the Republican party has fallen? From Lincoln, arguably the best potus like ever, to Teddy Roosevelt, to Eisenhower, to the creation of the ” southern strategy ” in Nixon and the even more racist Raygun to Trump and Cruz. Forty years of evil, misguided, purpose filled fuckery that even the Borgia family would be proud of leads us to the here and now of modern electoral politics.

      If I wasn’t so afraid of what comes after Trump in 2020, this is the kind of absurdity that I live for! If I didn’t have kids I would laugh my ass off saying that you deserve it , fuck you for voting for morons but I have grandchildren and why should they pay for the southern states stupidity?

      I’m afraid after the post-mortem on this election, the GOP will say that the reason they lost is because we don’t murder gays, the sluts who got abortions, we need to legislate according to the fucking bible, 3/5th of a vote for the “pigment challenged ” if we even LET them vote, fracking, drilling, outlawing the word ” climate change ” in Miami. …the very first place that will suffer the most from the melting ice caps, the dumbing down of the voters. ..etc ad nausea!
      I’m hoping that you are all feeling the anxiety too!

      I convinced both my mom ( who is on social security and section 8) and my sister who would rather pay full price for hospital care than be apart of the ACA that they are voting against their self interest and I hope that they weren’t just making me shut up!

      November is coming people. What side of history do you want to align with? Really, I am interested. If you feel I am wrong mansplain it to me, tell me how your religion can live with it, tell me that you are out lawing abortion for any reason instead of hatred of women and the need for slut-shaming, tell me that two gays who love each other can’t adopt my grandchildren if something should happen to my immediate children and I am not around to take them in?

      I FUCKING HATE that I need to think like this in 2016, but here we are! Please. …tell me I’m wrong!

      Like

      • Okay slappy, I’ll tell ya, you got it wrong. Somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 (probably closer to 1/2) of the Republican party electorate consists of a intellectually mostly incoherent consensus, encompassing misogynist, racist, insular sectarian tribal loyalties. This will either result in the nomination of a desperately narcissistic child or the nomination of someone similarly odious, but less dangerously so, largely abandoned by this 1/3 to 1/2 half of the Republican party electorate. The Republican party, like their know nothing and Whig party predecessors, is imploding upon its hypocrisies and vacuities, and will be replaced by either a profound reconstruction of itself or by something altogether new, representing, finally, with honor and integrity the viewpoint that a relatively limited government in scope and action is in the long term best.

        The real America, as it always has, will prevail.

        Like

        • But until we put a stake in the heart of this misguided shit show we call an American voting party, I have to take it on faith that 10% of the people in America are batshit crazy and the 90 % of the rest us, from which over 70 % of us don’t vote mid-term will take care of this? Yeah. ….not going to put my faith in humanity any longer.

          This is my only podium to try to convince people who most likely agree with me, but are maybe just a little bit enamored with the human race to not understand that there are SCOTUS picks up for grabs and it will behoove us to make sure that people like Trump and Cruz are to be defeated at all costs!

          Do you trust your neighbors? Mine are idiots. ..they elected Lepage fucking TWICE!

          Like

        • Forgot to add, I can now open carry if that’s my fetish, but they are shutting down the mental illness clinics and the drug abuse clinics and passing out gun rights law’s like they were endangered!

          My moronic neighbors not only vote against their own self interest, they are now armed and so proud of their new rights ( which would have Never happened with a background check );that they want to brandish rifles while I eat in a fucking restaurant!

          Like

        • Yes, I do believe in the decency of my neighbors even when I don’t know their names. I hear it in the laughter of their children and the look in their eyes,

          Like

        • Well if you can trust your kids around people who want to brandish rifles at the local diner like they just got a new phone, and we have all been there, but my fucking phone won’t shoot your grandchildren in the fucking head, then I can’t argue with you.

          Myself? This is how it is NOW, I am in truly terrified on what year 3 will be like.

          Fox; Are you alive to watch this broadcast? Tune in after buying another gun tomorrow and we will tell you why your cousin Lionel is a terrorist!

          Rush Limbaugh; We have to start shooting the Muslims at the 7-11 before they start blowing up Christmas! Also, punch your wife in the face for me!

          Bill Orielly; I’m an independent but the government has to stay out of our lives. ..like, just because my kids hate me and my wife is an emotional wreck because I dragged her through the mud for years that should be nobody’s business! Today’s talking point. Who are you fucking and why are you sick for doing it?

          Glenn Beck; crying in such a pathetic manner to make Miss Lyndsay Graham look like he only had the vapors!

          Breitbart; Thanks Obama!

          Need I say more?

          Like

    • also if you’re a Cruz supporter, you’re voting for the Zodiac Killer.

      OK I don’t really believe that, but he might as well be.

      I am sincerely worried about the future of our country, but we must not give up. Every day that goes by more people see how awful Trump is. I might be mentally ill, but Trump is nuts.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Shit, I was kinda hoping for feedback. I can’t get on the chat site, but that is where you all are. Damn. …another slappy post that no one else will see.

    Why do I always do the longest articulate posts on the only articles that every one ignores, but when I talk nonsense EVERYONE sees it?

    Like

      • Yeah, but you’re only a woman, I am a man. …like. ..I have a long fingers and a penis and who gave you permission to even type? Don’t conflate what you with your biological nonsense go through with what men go through!

        We men have to let ourselves go bald, or if we still have hair, dye it in the most unimaginable color even it doesn’t match the mustache. Barring that we have to staple a marmot to our heads and run for president just so the Russian mail order bridal slave market is still in tact!

        You have no idea what we do for you women to save yourself from yourself. Just come home to Daddy!

        ******big sarcasm font ******

        Went to HBT today ……don’t want to troll you historio, just wanted to tweak. Cheers my dear.

        Like

    • 4d – mental illness is generally diagnosed between the ages of 18-25. Mine was properly diagnosed at 17. It is unsettling, and very scary, but be patient. Be understanding that your son will find it hard to talk about his fears. If he’s anything like me, he will have problems feeling like he needs help.

      There’s a huge stigma among us, that mental illness means there’s a flaw, or that we’re weak or soft. Please, if your son is willing, seek at least some gentle counseling. Treatment, done early, helps tremendously. Don’t let him be like me and nearly suicidal before seeking help.

      Just reassure him that you love him and that you will help in any way, and that he is not broken.

      Like

      • as you probably already know from what I’ve posted my son, 33 year old father of two, suffered from a “mental health” issue which nearly killed him and along with it the rest of us, over the last six months or so.

        The best I can tell you is cut your dad some slack. He has no idea how painful your shit is and you have no idea how painful his shit is. There was a number of morning where I didn’t care if I woke up or not and I believe he felt the same.

        If you have found your way, don’t let go of it, so he doesn’t have to either.

        Liked by 2 people

      • It’s because diagnosis are frequently missed or ignored. Denial. I spent time as a student nurse in the children’s psych ward in Morton Plant Hospital. Young children, 5, 6, 11. Locked in a hospital because they were a danger to themselves or others. One of the most heart breaking experiences I ever had as a student. Their stories of abuse, reading their history and physicals. I am crying now thinking about the pain people inflict on the innocent because I can do nothing about it. I could not help them. It was awful. I could not work there, even with my psych degree. I wanted to take them all home and keep them safe forever, but I couldn’t.

        Like

      • Seeking help is a sign of strength, not a sign of weakness. Accepting your limitations is a show of great wisdom. Don’t buy into the belief that there is a stigma. Eliminate it. We in the health care community want you to come to us. That’s why we’re here. We won’t judge. We know just how flawed everyone is.

        Like

  4. It has pleased me to see Grienke become the success he has at MLB. I remember early on when we all found out about the anxiety disorder, the ridiculous stuff on the blogs about “no mental toughness” and how he could never succeed in the big cities. (As if it matters what city you are in when you are standing on a mound in front of 35,000 people). And now here he is, best pitcher in the NL for 2015.

    Take heart, Professor. The only people who can’t be helped are those who won’t be helped. We respect you, and know you for the intelligent and sensitive person you are.

    My best friend, associate on birding trips, and duplicate bridge partner is a professor at a local junior college. He is also strongly bipolar. The bridge games can be wild, especially when he is off his meds. But when you know enough people you understand that normality is a vague concept, and one that many of us do not share in. We learn to appreciate everyone around us for what they happen to bring to the conversation.

    Liked by 1 person

Join in on the conversation!

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s