Two years ago, I was going through a really rough patch.
After struggling alone with my mental health from around the age of 13 or 14, things eventually reached breaking point.
I’m not going to bore you all with my life story, I went to my GP and asked for help. I was lucky, I got it. A lot of my life since then has evolved around learning to live my life around my mental health, and discovering ways to keep me healthy and cope with situations when I’m not feeling at my best.
And last summer, I discovered baseball.
A depressed Welshman living on a farm in rural Scotland is probably not what most folk would associate with America’s Past Time, but the world of sluggers, stats and strike zones presents me with an escape.
My brain is always on, which is great for work or when you’re trying to work out the answers to the missing vowels round on Only Connect at about half 8 on a Monday Night, but it also means I really struggle to switch off. When my brain decides it wants to dwell on negative thoughts, or wants to go at the speed of a Jordan Hicks fastball when all you want to do is sleep, it’s not so great.
But no matter what my brain pitches at me, baseball has the answer.
If I need a distraction, I can brew up a batch of coffee and sit in front of a ball game for a few hours and just switch off.
If my brain is hurtling along, the in-depth statistical side of the game, the mind bending physics of the pitches or the riddle of how a professional athlete on a multi-million dollar a year contract can’t cover 90 feet faster than our very fat, very lazy cat, provide enough stimulation for my overactive brain.
And when I’m not having a great day, I can always take a good, long look at my newly beloved Chicago Cubs and think “Well, it could be worse…”.
Snazzy uniforms, beautiful ballparks, a level of statistics that would get even the nerdiest of nerds hot under the collar, and big bellied pitchers throwing blazing fast balls, baseball has everything I didn’t know I needed in my life, and I bloody love it all.
So, thank you baseball. Thank you for being the new friend with the funny outfit who is there for me when I’m having one of those days where I just want to stay in my pyjamas and cry all day.