Saturday, July 16, 2011

Taylor Buchholz - A Man's Man Comes Clean About Depression

Mets reliever Taylor Buchholz has been sidelined since May 30th with what was called a "shoulder problem."

Buccholz, who has been off to an impressive start (1-1 3.12 ERA), experienced shoulder discomfort, and was disabled. It was not thought of to be anything major, but a month and a half later, there have been no sightings of the Mets righty reliever.

Just recently it has come to public attention that Buchholz suffers from depression. Buchholz, who was diagnosed in May 2010 with the disorder, was known to be a happy-go-lucky guy, could usually be found whistling throughout the clubhouse. Buchholz admittedly was reclusive. Normally a person who would be there to lend a hand to anyone, teammate or other, found himself getting to the park late and leaving early. He was suffering from anxiety and depression where his muscles would go into spasm, nervous twitches and heart palpitations. It was then, in Modesto during a rehab assignment, that Buchholz confronted team psychologist Ron Svetich. Buchholz broke into tears speaking with Svetich, and it was then discovered what was really wrong with him.

In Buchholz words:

"I really didn’t know what was going on. But when I think back on it, maybe it was a sign that the team psychologist [Ron Svetich] was there in Modesto when I broke down. I saw Svetich the day before in the clubhouse and I remember him asking me how I felt. I told him I was great. I lied to him. Then the next morning, I was showering, and I broke out into this crying fit. When I went back to the clubhouse later that day, I pulled Svetich aside.”

The Springfield Patch, where this quote is from, has a wonderful article about Buchholz fight against depression and how he is dealing with it. Buchholz started experiencing the same feelings with them Mets, and when he was disabled with the shoulder discomfort, which was real, it also came to light he was falling into that deep dark whole that almost swallowed him in 2010.

Continuing his meeting with Svetich, Buchholz continued:

“I literally broke down right then and let him know everything. It was one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. I’m there crying to another man. But Svetich recognized there was a problem. He was fantastic and someone that helped me get through this. At that point, I didn’t want anything to come out, because I was totally embarrassed about it. I’m a man’s man who’s supposed to be tough and not breaking down into tears for no reason. I didn’t feel like a man, I’ve been the one that’s been the rock in my relationships.”

The rock for Buchholz is his wife Ashley, who has been there through it all. He credits her for learning about his depression and always being there for him, even in times when he would come home and take his frustrations out on her.

Buchholz and his agent were honest with Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson of his condition, and Alderson still took a chance on Buchholz. The Mets reliever is grateful to the Mets and Alderson for not only sticking by him in his time of trouble, but respecting and honoring Buchholz and his family the confidentiality of his condition. It was Buchholz who decided it was time to inform people of his problem, and according to his doctor, it is a great healing process to speak about the affliction.

“The Mets have been amazing to me and they even hid it for a while. I kept getting questions and I started lying to people what was happening to me. I felt bad about that. I didn’t want them to lie about my situation anymore; I needed to let everyone know. That felt good to get it off my chest. I felt like I was letting people down and everyone has been so supportive, especially Alderson.”

Buchholz is taking prescription drugs and is in counseling. He hasn't made a decision if or when he will return. He says he is finally in a good place, and he wants to be sure before he returns. The Mets have been understanding of this, and have supported him.

“I’m not closing a door on baseball by any means, but I can’t say where things are right now; I don’t want to rush back. I didn’t want to let people down, people in my community, my family. I put my heart and soul into baseball for 12 years. Two months ago, I would have said ‘Yes,’ I let myself down. Now, no. I’m letting things go. I don’t always have to be perfect. I’m still not out of the woods and I still have a lot of work to do. Baseball has been part of my whole life. But happiness is much more important than any job in the world. The most important things in my life are Ashley, Jayden and my family. That’s what makes me most happy; I’m in a very good place right now.”

Here's hoping Buchholz continues to find happiness, and if he is able, to return to the Mets.

Sources: The Springfield Patch, Baseball Reference

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