It is being reported that prior to last night’s ALCS game in New York, Astros starting pitcher Zack Greinke was being heckled as he warmed up in the bullpen. That’s nothing new, but the interesting twist to this one is that some Yankee fans felt that it was OK to taunt him about his struggles with social anxiety and depression. Granted, it hasn’t been so long ago where that would have been off limits, not because fans were nicer, but because no one would dare be open about those struggles. So this may be new territory, but it’s not a good place to be.
Perhaps the most enlightened take I saw about why it’s such a problem came from Molly Knight on Twitter though:
You yell ignorant stuff like that and you’re not hurting Greinke. You’re probably hurting the friend next to you who is silently suffering.
— Molly Knight (@molly_knight) October 18, 2019
This is really the issue. Greinke knew this might happen when he went public with his story, and he accepted that risk. It’s all the other people who silently struggle who lose when this kind of thing happens, because it only encourages them to stay silent instead of talking, and maybe getting the help they need. I’ve written elsewhere about this and it bears repeating in this context:
According to the NIMH statistics, about 25% of the adult population is diagnosable for a mental health disorder in a given year. Almost 50% will be diagnosable during their lifetime.
Stop right now, and think of the last 4 people you talked to during your day today. Chances are, one of them is dealing with a mental health issue, and at least one other is dealing with someone in their family with a mental health issue. These aren’t the rare freaks that you never have to deal with, they are around you all the time, and they deserve your support, not your scorn.
This is the real shame. As these insults were being hurled in person, and on social media, there’s a really good chance that a great number of people who are struggling right now, or know someone who is struggling, who desperately need our support, instead saw the horrible mean things that might happen if they were to open up about their own struggles. How many people will continue to suffer silently, how many more might we lose to these struggles because too many people see mental health struggles as a weakness to be exploited and made fun of, instead of something that most of us will deal with at some point in our own lives?
To the Yankee fans who felt this was necessary, and I know it was not all of you, be better human beings. If not for Zack Greinke, for all the people around you who are struggling and won’t talk to you about it.