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Justin Duchscherer’s depression is pretty damn serious

Apr 15, 2011, 1:36 PM EDT

duchscherer poses Getty Images

Those of us who haven’t had mental illness touch our lives can’t really relate to it too well.  I understand, intellectually, what clinical depression is, but I don’t understand it practically. And so when I hear things like “Justin Duchscherer suffers from clinical depression” — as I did in late 2009 — I didn’t really understand the depths of it, nor could I.

But Duchscherer sat for an interview with Men’s Journal recently (the link goes to an excerpt; the article hits the newsstands today) in which he talks about his depression, what it has and still does do to him and how he deals. Eye-opening stuff:

“My problem is I’m a soft guy in a profession of hard guys,” Duchscherer tells the publication. “I’d prefer to be playing tennis.

“People think if you’re rich, you must be happy. They can’t understand why you’re not. I feel guilty making so much money playing a game. If I pitch a shutout, it doesn’t make me happy. I think of the guys I struck out, how they’re going home, depressed, to their families.”

It’s serious business when what ails you does more than merely drag you down but, rather, makes a full frontal assault on the job you’re supposed to be doing.  I can’t imagine how someone functions like that. Especially Duchscherer, who goes on to talk about how he doesn’t like and doesn’t take medication.

  1. Alex K - Apr 15, 2011 at 1:44 PM

    If he can function, and pitch well, then he is the hardest guy in baseball.

  2. kcroyal - Apr 15, 2011 at 1:46 PM

    I feel for the guy, and can completely relate. I suffered for at least a year, and still do on occasion, but nothing like a few years ago. Heres to hoping the guy can get through it. You can’t put a price on peace of mind.

  3. xmatt0926x - Apr 15, 2011 at 2:07 PM

    Most people don’t understand clinical depression. When they hear that someone is depressed they think it’s like the “depression” you get for a known reason such as your girlfriend breaking up with you or something else bad happening to you. Thats why you get so many people who say “what do you have to be depressed about?? Your a millionaire athlete!!” or rock star, whoever. I have a young family member who has suffered from clinical depression and it’s horrible. You can have everything you want or need in the world and you just feel horribly depressed and see no light at the end of the tunnel. The worst part is that you can’t pinpoint why you feel that way. You just do. Money, fame, all the material things you could want in life makes no difference. You just feel horrible and hopeless and you have no idea why.

  4. BC - Apr 15, 2011 at 2:15 PM

    Clinical depression is VERY unpredictable – affects one person severely, the other person not, and varies all over the place in how it manifests itself. I hope he’s getting therapy, and despite what he things about meds, taking them if that’s what’s needed.

  5. cur68 - Apr 15, 2011 at 2:19 PM

    If I had to offer him or anyone in his shoes advice I’d say volunteer, do charity work, go to school in the off season to become a counselor, social worker, or something in healthcare. It makes appreciating sports much easier and it sure helps with the depression. Worked for me.

  6. baseballisboring - Apr 15, 2011 at 2:37 PM

    Hell…at least you understand it intellectually, that’s more than a lot of people can even say. People in this country are VERY ignorant about mental disorders…I mean, that’s kind of the worst part of it, is that you can’t really talk to anyone about it because they don’t understand, it makes you feel like you live on a different planet. If you tell someone you’re feeling depressed they’ll say “Hey, make some soup and watch a movie!”. I mean, I’m not depressed because my girlfriend of two weeks dumped me, I have a serious chemical imbalance in my brain. You’ve heard the old expression of someone seeing the world through rose colored glasses, right? Imagine the inverse. I mean, not to be whiny, but I don’t like the medication…I’d rather feel *something* than nothing at all.


  7. dodger88 - Apr 15, 2011 at 4:46 PM

    It is only in recent years that players such as Duchscherer and Grienke have opened up about depression, which has me wondering how many instances in the past when a seemingly healthy (i.e. no physical injury) player went from being good (3.00 ERA or .300 BA) to a bad performing player (i.e. 6.00 ERA or .222 BA) could have been atributed to something like depression as opposed to “he just can’t play the game well” for some unknown reason. Some player’s performance just drops off without much explanation I’m sure but logically one has to think that depression was the answer to some cases in the past.

  8. sanzarq - Apr 15, 2011 at 6:49 PM

    I wonder if the O’s knew this when they signed him?

    I would think most fans don’t give a crap, including me. He’s paid like some sort of entertainer (like all other players) and, as a result, I have to pay a relative “fortune” to spend 2 1/2 hours watching him & other “entertainers” play.

    If he can’t cut it – tell him to get lost!! I don’t want to read about him.

    • cur68 - Apr 15, 2011 at 8:24 PM

      Ah yes, there’s always someone…I wonder, did you feel the same way about Dave Dravecky? He couldn’t cut it either and he was payed pretty well. Duchscherer has an illness which causes him to suffer just like if he broke his arm or had some other obvious chronic illness. This isn’t so much about baseball as it is about a person trying to bear up while being afflicted with something pretty awful. I guess you wouldn’t get that if you can’t put yourself in his shoes. I would prefer if you can’t at least wish him well then belt up. Since we all live in free countries you are entitled to your opinion but I for one couldn’t disagree with you more.

  9. tigertigerwoodsyall - Apr 16, 2011 at 10:14 AM

    Get a dog up ya, Justin! It can be an every day battle…you’re doing great!

  10. leftywildcat - Apr 16, 2011 at 3:24 PM

    Persevere, Justin — keep as busy as possible, and keep setting a great example for the many others out there.

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