there's been a lot of talk in england over the last few days about the cricketer marcus trescothick and his departure from the ashes series because of depression. mike brearley (former england captain) wrote today:
"I used to think that cricket, by its nature, schools its players to deal with problems of loss. Symbolic deaths occur almost every time you bat. Getting out means leaving the arena altogether, and being hors de combat for hours or days. I assumed that such repeated experience might be a source of strength for a cricketer, enabling him to mourn, cope with, and make the best of the loss of a loved profession on retirement. Sport enlists, in a usually healthy way, some of the aggression needed for the inevitable strivings of life, including competition. I imagined that sport enabled its practitioners to exercise aggression in a safe enough setting, and to have less need to turn it against themselves in the form of depression.
Perhaps my view was too positive. Perhaps cricket does little to help one cope with other more substantial losses in life. Like other challenges, for those who can cope, it strengthens, while for others it may simply be too much."
of course it's not just cricketers, although there is a new book out (i forget the name, sorry) that claims that as many as 150 cricketers have committed suicide over the last few years. and it's not just famous people. or other people. how many friends do you have who deal with depression? maybe a better question is: how many people do you know who take anti-depressants? it's not hard for me to think of quite a few almost immediately. a naive question is: why do we all have to be so stressed out these days?
there may be a bit of a clue in what brearley says. we need healthy ways to deal with failure. it is a part of life, though, rather than death. it is a chance to learn and motivation to develop. in our culture, however, failure is so feared that many of us are paralysed even before we have a go at something.