PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS A POST REGARDING MY BATTLE WITH DEPRESSION. THOUGHTS AND VIEWS HERE BELONG SOLELY TO ME, CHRISTINA KIM, AND NOT THOSE OF THE LPGA.
This post is the result of what started as a small nugget in my brain a few months ago. I was going through another bout of uncertainty, of unhappiness and I knew I needed to let go of some things. Little did I know just how therapeutic this process has been. I wrote this for myself, first and foremost. I thought that writing about what I faced the last two years would help me, but I had no idea just how much. That letting go I mentioned? My letting go and facing my issues has been a cleansing I never thought I would experience in a hundred years. To be blessed with having people in my life that have been there through it all with me, I have no words. Just my eternal gratitude and thanks.
Please understand no one is at fault here. I had a relatively normal upbringing, with parents and siblings that loved me almost too much, if that is possible. I learned life’s lessons in a wonderful environment, with love and encouragement, and had parents that worked their tails off to give my siblings and me the opportunity to achieve anything, with hard work and perseverance. They were, still are and always will be my biggest role models, and I am fortunate to have their love and guidance with me as I near REAL adulthood.
There are very few people who do what they love, and I am one of those lucky few. The opportunities I have been given by the LPGA is nothing short of everything I could have ever dreamt of. As a seventeen year old, standing at Futures Tour Q school, I was presented the opportunity to prove that I was good enough to play professionally, and both my family by blood, as well as family by the years I have spent playing on the LPGA have always had a shoulder to cry on, a kind word, and given me every opportunity to express myself and seek help. Without the LPGA, I wouldn’t have had the support of my nearest and dearest friends, of the opportunities to meet some of the world’s best doctors, or the fans I have come across that have been another huge help in my everyday struggles.
I never wrote this in hopes that someone in the media would pick up on a story. I understand I am under the microscope, but I feel it is so much more important that I share my experiences, from my own hands, with my own voice, than to worry about what sensationalist story someone in the media could potentially write in attempts to garner a story that simply isn’t there.
Secondly I chose to open up about this to let people know that depression is, but should not be looked upon as a taboo subject. The CDC (Center for Disease Control & Prevention) estimates (as of March 2011) that 1 in 10 adults report depression. Think of what the number might be of adults who let their depression go unreported, unheard. It is a difficult subject to broach, but one that must be brought to the open. If by writing this, I am able to help even one soul seek help for what too many of us keep hidden in shame, my life’s work would be fulfilled. Because to live a life where one does not attempt to help others… What kind of life is that?
Lastly, please understand how difficult it was for me to write this. I seek no pity, need no comments or encouragement. I have a wonderful support system in the people I hold dear to my heart, and I know this battle is one I will be fighting for the rest of my life. Just please grant me the respect deemed anyone who writes a post, be it good, awful, or funny. We as human beings owe that to one another.
Depression. Thoughts of suicide. Irritability. The inability to smile.
No, this isn’t an advertisement for Prozac. This has been my life for the last two years. It’s scary to admit. That word, depression. That word often brings to mind an image of some white faced, overdramatic emo Goth girl with deep black eye makeup, blood red lips and a hatred for all of the adults in the world. Or else a listless blonde-her children wailing for attention in the background, a husband who works overtime far too often, with eyes rimmed with tears. However, a vibrant, effervescent, smiling-nay, laughing woman with a great career, (some) adoring fans, and the ability to play golf at a level most people only dream of does not come to mind. Yet, here we are. I don’t know when it started, or what caused this, but it has had me in its grips for the better part of two years. This is going to come out without much thought, so pardon me if the timeline skips around.
I guess one of the main catalysts to my feelings of worthlessness would be the decline of my golf game, though it’s hard to say which came first, or which affected the other more. It’s the whole chicken vs. the egg story. I play like crap, I feel bad. I feel like a@$, I play like $&!#. And the vicious cycle goes on. And on. And on. You get the gist of it. Back in 2010, I flew to Malaysia to play in the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia. I was so thrilled to be back in the Asia swing, and the reception we received was (and still is) among the best we get all year. We stayed at a beautiful resort, with incredible sights and amazing food. And I was so excited to play well. I, thinking I was being proactive, went to the spa to get a massage. Loosen up my muscles after a long day (and a half) of travel, and get back into tournament mode. Little did I know that massage would provide me with ailments that I am just now getting over. In the end, I got stretched and bent towards the end of the massage so deeply, I felt my spine give a yelp, and my L5-S1 got some form of a strain. I lost a club of yardage in the first week, another club lost within the next three weeks that followed. For the first time since I was 14, I couldn’t hit an 8 iron 145 on the fly. Even if I had a gun pointed to my head, I would not have been able to even sniff 140. I was lucky to get 130 yards out of it. Max. Even though I ended up limping into a top-10 in Malaysia, the seed of doubt had been laid in my brain.
I understand this may not seem like a big deal to most people, but try to imagine where I am coming from. Imagine that something you tried to do to help your body get prepared for your job, your career, essentially your life and livelihood, turns around and bites you in the bum. Your maximum skillset gets depleted by some 15-20%. That’s up to 1/5 of your strength, your intelligence, your vocabulary. It is pretty decimating. To this day I am still working on my numbers. Back then, my initial thought was swing longer, to create more lag, which will get distance back. Twenty months later, I was overswinging to the point that I made John Daly’s backswing look like a chip shot. By adding 80+ degrees to my swing (no joke), I had lost nearly all of my beloved ball striking capability. So, that being said, I lost speed, distance, AND direction?! What the Hell else did that leave me with? A lot of head scratching, head slamming (both mine and the clubs’) and lots of screaming “FORE”.
However, thanks to the works of Sean Foley and Kevin Smeltz, I have gotten my swing back into a much better place. However I have a long way to go yet, and with some patience, and some time, I think my swing will be back better than ever.
Suicide. People so freely use the term “I could kill myself”, and I am ready to admit I have used said term, or something like it, on many occasions. In all fairness, who hasn’t? When you get dumped, you wonder if offing yourself is worth it. Will the person who left you mourn the loss of you in their life? Would anyone care? You missed another cut. You want to end it, so that you don’t have to face the questions from your friends, family, media, Hell, even people on Twitter that don’t even know you. However, sometimes you are found grappling with a sudden, truly debilitating feeling. You feel lost, alone in a sea of people-people that truly don’t give a damn about you, some of whom actually relish in knowing you are suffering. You have no one to confide in, so you are left with this festering sensation, one that spreads throughout your body, your mind, into your very heart like some noxious poison, and you have no idea how to get the antidote. This feeling fell upon me for the first time in the beginning of 2011. I would be driving down a winding road, and suddenly feel the desire to wrench the steering wheel into an oncoming car, or over the railing, bracing myself against the free fall drop before the hunk of metal I’m driving (most likely a rental car) hits the ground, rolling over and over, until the car and I are a crumpled mess on the floor. The pain will be gone, the need to be “perfect” or “happy” will be no longer necessary. But something always kept me from doing it.
The time I call my one chance to actually end it came on an evening in April of 2011. I was playing the LET’s Euro Nations Cup with Brittany Lincicome, and I had my boyfriend, Duncan, caddying for me. Earlier in the day, after having suffered a bad day on the links, I was on the putting green, working on my six foot putts. I missed a number of them for par on the golf course, and I was so frustrated, I was in tears on the practice green. Like, a blubbering mess. A kid who got told no for the first time. Duncan tried his best to soothe me, though any other person would have run for the hills at the sight of me. I think at the time I had sprouted a third eye and must have looked as snotty as any four year old with a cold. Suddenly, I had an epiphany. The reason I even had six footers for par was because I couldn’t hit a green to save my life. My stats were down in nearly every department. My back was still on the fritz, and I was hitting it nowhere, but everywhere. I broke down (again) while on the range that afternoon, threw a fit, because the one thing I never had to worry about, my ball striking, had been running around on me. Every now and then moments of brilliance would pop up, but they were becoming more and more rare. I would catch a glimpse of the end of the rainbow, but never was able to actually see where that damned Leprechaun kept his pot of gold.
That evening, during a players’ party, held in a beautiful building overlooking the ocean, I went for a walk around. There was loud music, delicious food, wine and champagne flowed freely, and the inescapable sound of laughter. None of that appealed to me in the least. All I wanted was to be alone with my thoughts. I walked around the entire building, searching for some solitude, when I came across a corner overlooking the ocean that was not only unoccupied, but was also completely free of anything related to the party. I stood at the corner, gazing down at the Mediterranean, and leaned over. It was quiet, peaceful, and oh how I wanted to be a part of that silence! It was too easy, for me to just step over the wall of the building, as it was only waist high, and plummet two stories into the ocean. Though it seems I was born with two rather, robust, floatation devices already built in, I am about as hydro dynamically built as a rock. I am not what people would call a swimmer, and a leap into the depths of the Mediterranean would have surely been sufficient enough for me to drown. I was so close to leaping over the edge, but a flurry of nonstop phone calls from Duncan, as well as me having the keys to the car, were the only reasons I didn’t go. It wasn’t because I had some sort of “light at the end of the tunnel” BS thoughts. I knew at the time I had a wonderful life, with my golf game able to rise from the ashes, a wonderful man in my life who loves me for who I am, regardless of my looks or my golf game or how much money I have to my name, and the opportunity to travel to some of the most exotic places on Earth. But none of that mattered. Somehow, I was able to block it out, or maybe it wasn’t enough for me. All I could focus on were the negative thoughts that were dragging me down, as if I was already inhaling water into my lungs, getting pulled away from the surface of the ocean. In the end, a well placed phone call, and me being stupid enough to not pass the keys over to someone else, kept me from going overboard.
This may not seem like an actual attempt upon my life to you. People throughout time have been creative with ways they take their own lives. There are many easier ways to take one’s life. Of this I am aware of. But I do not like needles much, so depressing air into my body seemed rather painful and unpleasant. Going for the wrists? I’d probably cut the wrong way. Asphyxiation? I don’t know if I would have the ability to find a rope strong enough to hold my weight. All of these thoughts have occurred to me. The Mediterranean was my go-to at the time.
A couple of months later, as I was laying in bed at the Broadmoor Hotel during the week of the U.S. Women’s Open, I was suddenly seized by a feeling deeper than sadness. Of grief over the things that went through my life. I suddenly felt like I was back in Spain, and had taken the leap, and was flailing in cold black waters and I couldn’t reach the surface. By this point I knew I wasn’t going to attempt to take my life ever again, as it would be more hassle than anything else. When I die, I hope it is peaceful and police or cleaning crews aren’t required. But there I was, in this luxurious hotel room, a perfect bed, and I suddenly broke down. I must have been a sight to behold! Between sobs, I could hear Duncan asking me what was wrong, where was I hurting, what can he do for me. Crying hysterically, I think I managed to tell him about what happened in Spain, how he saved my life and he may have to yet again take part in that role. As the feeling subsided to the point I could breathe again, I realized something was not right. Take me long enough, I know. I dialed my doctor, and spoke with him at length about how I was feeling, what went through my head, and I regaled my incident from Spain. After hearing all of this, we discussed the possible physical and chemical changes to my body and brain. After listening to the doctor describe different receptors in the brain, the things our bodies as human secrete into our systems to help us survive, I was prescribed an antidepressant. A tiny little green pill (seriously, it’s the size of a grain of rice. Maybe not quite as thick, but it was tiny) was supposed to help my body to release seratonin? Seriously? I started to take it after missing the cut at the US Open, and within a few weeks I was having fewer and fewer really negative thoughts. I was able to smile more. To be a little happier. Things no longer felt as bleak as they once did, and apparently I started having some extremely vivid but strange dreams. Shown here is a drawing I made on my iPhone depicting one of the main characters from such a dream that I had the damnedest time explaining to Duncan. A big honking turtle with massive, goofy teeth? And a rhinoceros that was chasing people, but turned out to be two people in a rhino costume?! I think Duncan initially enjoyed my waking him up to tell him about the “strange dream I had last night”, but thirty nights later, I think the amusement had been spent. He just wanted to sleep.
I ended up taking my little green pill for the better part of six months. After that time, I decided to talk to my doctor again. Life was not so bad, and I felt like I was a big enough girl that I could face the world without my rose colored glasses. I began to slowly wean off of it, and after a while, I was no longer taking it, and not having any crazy seratoninless days. My brain started to secrete it full blast on it’s own, and has not stopped, thankfully. I am still free from its reaches, and I don’t think I will need to take it again.
Now to the present. Even though I have had to date the worst year of my career, and it’s only July, I am cautiously optimistic. Harrowing as it has been to relive the last year and a half of my life, in doing so, I also feel more cleansed than I have in a very long time. Life is not so bad. In fact, it is grand. It’s the one thing we are sure of ever having. I know that I have a wonderful support system, with more people that care about me than I can think of. To those people, I am ever grateful. And to all of those who wish to see my demise, for you I am also grateful. Because without yin, where would one’s yang lie? I am learning to take the good days with the bad days. It is the ebb and flow of life, and as I used to always say, “Enjoy the Ride.” Because this is one for the record books. And as my career, my life, continue on, I will hold my head high and know that I had the strength to share what I have experienced with people, that I will be there for people if they need me, and I will have lived with purpose.
And I will be damned if I don’t go down without a fight. Preferably against a bear. Because aside from it being swift, I mean, come on, that would be epic.