Bleacher Bits: Mental illness nothing to play with
For those of you who read this column weekly with the hopes of leaving with a smile or a chuckle after reading something from the lighter side of sports, I'd say that you may not like this week's column.
But I'd also tell you that while I hope you read this space every week, it's extremely important that you keep reading now, because the topic truly can be a matter of life and death.
On Wednesday, the sports and media outlets reported that perennial NFL Pro-Bowl linebacker Junior Seau was found dead in his home with a gunshot wound to his chest. At the time of writing it was being investigated as, but had yet to be ruled, a suicide.
In 2010, Seau survived a plunge down a cliff in his SUV just hours after being arrested for investigation of domestic violence. There was no evidence of drug or alcohol use contributing to the crash, and Seau told authorities he fell asleep at the wheel.
It is my hope in writing this column that others don't "fall asleep at the wheel" when it comes to recognizing the signs and the treatment options available when dealing with mental illness.
Earlier this baseball season, the San Francisco Giants placed Aubrey Huff on the 15-day disabled list because of anxiety, and former major league infielder Khalil Greene disappeared from the game in 2009, sidelined by an anxiety disorder.
A 2003 issue of Sports Illustrated featured a story titled "Prisoners of Depression," that listed a number of high-profile athletes, as well as a wide range of public features that included Barbara Bush, Halle Berry and Winston Churchill. The common thread linking them all together was mental illness.
What do high-priced athletes or public figures have to be depressed or anxious about? The same things as you or I - mental illness doesn't discriminate on the basis of socio-economic status.
It's easy to know an athlete is injured when he or she is on the sidelines with a cast or crutches providing visible proof. When the pain is being suffered on the inside it is impossible to "see" but is just as real.
The loss of any life due to metal illness is unfortunate, whether the person is in the public eye or not. I speak openly about my own experiences with both anxiety and depression, not out of any desire for sympathy, but with the hope that by being open about mine, other people will feel more comfortable in dealing with theirs.
Mental illness is nothing to play with, but it is something you can live with.
CONTACT Craig Purcell at 824-1036 or firstname.lastname@example.org.