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Evan Gattis: “All I could think about was killing myself”

May 1, 2013, 4:05 PM EDT

Philadelphia Phillies v Atlanta Braves Getty Images

Anyone who has caught a Braves game this season has likely heard the announcers telling the tale of the strange path Gattis took to reach the majors. The odd jobs he had and how he found his way back to baseball and, golly, it’s a swell story.

As Bob Nightengale reports in his profile of Gattis in USA Today, however, it was not some shaggy dog tale about a wandering soul finally finding his way back to the game:

“I was in a mental hospital,” he tells USA TODAY Sports. “I couldn’t sleep for an entire week, and I knew something was wrong with me. So I got admitted. I was so depressed, all I could think about was killing myself. I wanted to kill myself for a long time.” … Gattis was diagnosed with clinical depression and anxiety six years ago and, through medication, therapy and time, eventually discovered what he wanted out of life.

His story is an ongoing one. People with depression and anxiety can and often do battle it for their entire lifetime. And to successfully battle it, many require the sort of help Gattis got to aid his fight. Sadly, many people do not get it and wander off their path for years, sometimes never to return.

Gattis is a great story, and I don’t begrudge the visiting announcers for taking the chance to tell his tale. But there was much more behind it all than wanderlust and whimsy. Gattis’ comeback from where he was is far more impressive and beat far more odds than any of that would suggest.

  1. jcmeyer10 - May 1, 2013 at 4:12 PM

    For all the kids struggling out there, here is someone to look up to. He isn’t painting a pretty picture, but it’s real.

  2. El Bravo - May 1, 2013 at 4:15 PM

    Mad Gattitude.

    • recoveringcubsfan - May 2, 2013 at 12:21 AM

      Gattitude is still stupid. Depression is not stupid, it ruins lives. He’s a hell of a person to talk openly about it and he gets respect for that. No slogan necessary.

  3. Old Gator - May 1, 2013 at 4:17 PM

    Sounds like he could write the baseball equivalent of Styron’s Darkness Visible and perhaps someday he will. He should. That’s a very tough road and people who are walking it now would be heartened to have a traveling companion.

  4. cur68 - May 1, 2013 at 4:19 PM

    Saw this kid’s second MLB at bat. They were interviewing his dad as he came up. Live on TV, anyone watching got to see his old man’s reaction to that at bat. It was a homer. Given the story behind it and all that has come since, well, hell.

    Way to go, kid.

    /hat tip

    • skids003 - May 2, 2013 at 8:21 AM

      Right with you, cur. Teary eyed.

  5. knowlegeforyou - May 1, 2013 at 4:19 PM

    As someone who has suffered from pretty bad anxiety, I know where he is coming from. I love life to much to kill myself, but it can cause every day things in life to become quite unbearable. Sometimes it is easier to feel like just giving up. An already great story gets better. Someone better hurry and buy the rights to his story and make a movie.

    • ch0psuey - May 2, 2013 at 3:12 AM

      Cheers man, I can feel ya.

    • stlouis1baseball - May 2, 2013 at 10:55 AM

      Right there with you Knowledge! No depression whatsoever. My glass is always half full.
      But anxiety? Yeah…a whole lot of it. Medicine helps. People tend to lump depression and anxiety together but they can very much be exclusive from one another. In my case…it’s anxiety with some OCD. My buddies call me Monk. Everyone knows (when we meet up at my house for whatever reason)…that I am the last one to leave the house. After I make my “psycho circles”…as my Sister-in-Law affectionately calls it. Lol! We are also typically the last ones to arrive (usually due to the aforementioned psycho circles). Outside trash cans are lined up a certain way. A multi-light switch as to have all the switches lined up (among a few other things). It’s not so much the OCD as it is the anxiety. But I am good. As mentioned…the medicine does it’s job.

  6. indaburg - May 1, 2013 at 4:27 PM

    That was intense story. I’ve heard the whitewashed story of the proprietor of my current favorite MLB nickname (“El Oso Blanco” is awesome) that made him sound more like a wandering pot head who got his act straight. I didn’t realize how deep his struggles with depression were. He described exactly what depression is, the all encompassing blackness and despair. I’m so glad that he was able to get the help he needed, and I hope he continues to get the support he needs.

    Every year some guy comes out of nowhere that just captures people’s imagination. For me, this year, that guy is Gattis. I just love watching the guy hit.

  7. southpaw2k - May 1, 2013 at 4:28 PM

    I hadn’t heard about Gattis’s story before now, but I really want to read more. I’ve never had to deal with any clinical anxiety or depression, but it sounds like it’s a very prevalent issue among athletes from all major sports, even though it seems football has the most number of documented cases. Hopefully Gattis will continue to thrive and beat his demons.

  8. randygnyc - May 1, 2013 at 4:41 PM

    And some are so sick, they either refuse the help or stop taking the meds once they feel better (my sister in law).

    Good for Gattis.

  9. blabidibla - May 1, 2013 at 4:47 PM

    I lost a dear friend back in October after he went down this rabbit hole of severe depression. Super dynamic guy, life of the party type. Despite several months unsuccessfully seeking proper treatment he took his own life, leaving behind 3 kids (one special needs) and a despondent wife.

    I cannot begin to fathom the kind of sadness and despair he must have been going through, knowing how much he loved his family and yet still he felt it necessary to exit this world. His wife in only now finding her way back to the real world. I took the two boys under my wing and managed to get them onto the Pony League team I manage. I try to hide the tears from my own son every time I drop them off after practice

    • ch0psuey - May 2, 2013 at 3:16 AM

      Depression is a Sad Sad Mistress. Can Devastate whole families. Wish the best to his family and everyone around you. And Especially to you Blabidibla.

      • koufaxmitzvah - May 2, 2013 at 9:40 AM

        I wouldn’t say that Depression is a mistress. Is the loss of a limb equivalent to a steamy night in a seedy motel?

        The brain can go in loops for some people. Repetitive thinking, it’s called. And when life sucks, the repetitive thinking says that, not only does life suck, but it’s never, ever going to get better.

        Not a mistress, but being stuck in a really, bad marriage. Depression is the pain of having to wake up and suffer everyday, before finally going to sleep before having to wake up again.

  10. 13arod - May 1, 2013 at 4:53 PM

    this ki is an allstar

  11. randygnyc - May 1, 2013 at 5:08 PM

    Blabid- may your kindness and humanity be returned upon your children and their children next.

  12. dumbassgreg - May 1, 2013 at 5:30 PM

    this is one group you can still attack without penalty. the things the padres said about grienke, if he was gay or black people would jumped all over the guy. it was mental issues so people laughed. many of the men you see with booze problems actually have mental issues but are too weak to admit it. admitting you have problems is not sign of weakness .

    • Kevin S. - May 1, 2013 at 5:43 PM

      Did you *see* the fallout from Garfinkel’s comments? Or the lengths he went through to make amends? Yeah, it’s still more socially acceptable to call somebody “retard” instead of “faggot,” but it’s not by a lot.

  13. urfinished - May 1, 2013 at 6:30 PM

    Wow…God bless this guy.
    I hope he wasn’t misdiagnosed as there are forms of OCD where you are scared you would do that, but in reality have zero intention of it. It can make you depressed if you don’t realize you are obsessing over a fear and not reality.
    He may have just been very depressed and wanted to though…I know virtually nothing of his past. I would imagine the Braves make sure he gets top notch medical treatment.
    Again…God bless and good luck kid.

  14. reediddy - May 1, 2013 at 7:12 PM

    Remarkable story, I work in an ER and see people dealing with anxiety/depression routinely and it’s always nice to hear a story about someone who can climb out of that hole and better themselves. Some people may have been caught in that web of sadness and started to make the excuse for themselves, but amazingly, Gattis was able to harness his God-given talents and work his way to his dream. Real great stuff, shows that these athletes have really worked to get where they are.

    • historiophiliac - May 1, 2013 at 9:32 PM

      Are you serious? “started to make the excuse for themselves”? Really?

    • koufaxmitzvah - May 2, 2013 at 9:37 AM

      I would think that someone working in an ER would have more empathy for what is clearly a genetic trait/biological condition.

      It’s not fun being depressed. Wishing for suicide isn’t something one chooses to do. There are loops in thinking and a perception that life itself is a warped, sick reality. No one chooses to view life this way.

      Folks on the street did not choose to go there, no matter what you tell yourself.

    • anybodyinhere - May 2, 2013 at 12:41 PM

      I understand what diddy is saying, though it could’ve been put a little more compassionately. For the last 15 years, I’ve had dysthymia, which is essentially chronic low grade depression — the brain equivalent of always having fever of about 99.9. I’m on a couple different meds to control it, engage in talk therapy, etc. But I make excuses all the time for why my life and outlook isn’t better. For example: I use the kids as an excuse for not ending a lonely depressing marriage. I use needing to be available for aging parents as an excuse for not moving from an area I hate. I use the golden handcuffs as the reason I don’t find a job that doesn’t isolate and bore me so much. Give me a solution, I have an excuse. Many of them are really good excuses, but in the end that’s all they really are. So yeah, I get diddy here.

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