Chamique Holdsclaw speaks

Amazing piece by writer Maria M. Cornelius on former Lady Vol and new Atlanta Dream centerpiece player Chamique Holdsclaw, whose return to the game is highly anticipated:

Critical part:

Holdsclaw took a leave of absence from the Mystics in July of 2004 and was immediately the target of rumors as to why she had left the team. She made few public remarks, tried to slip away from the public’s scrutiny and sunk into a deep depression that had been building over time.

“At first I was embarrassed,” Holdsclaw said. “When I left the team, now that I look back, I wish I had been upfront about what happened, just came out and said it, but I was embarrassed and I kind of just retreated. I didn’t know how to handle it. I didn’t want anyone to think I wasn’t OK because us athletes we’re so strong and we can handle anything, you know? It’s something people can’t see.

“The criticism and the things that you hear that was probably the hardest part for me. I’m from New York so I’ve heard a lot of trash talking and people criticizing folks – that’s just the way I grew up – but when you’re going through something so sensitive and so personal it really hit me to hear people say, ‘Oh my God, she’s bipolar, she’s this and she’s that.’ In some instances these were people who had never met me. People were just judging and being judgmental. That was really tough for me.”

Holdsclaw later openly talked about her clinical depression in media interviews. She spoke about it as a public service and made a video with medical writer Jeanne Blake for Words Can Work, an online resource guide for adults and children dealing with depression and other medical issues. An excerpt of Holdsclaw’s video can be viewed at: Words Can Work. Summitt also made an appearance on Holdsclaw’s behalf.

I remember that time, and subsequent times after that, where those on rebkell and other message boards publicly speculated – and ridiculed – Holdsclaw for her depression. I don’t know why clinical depression was so misunderstood in the first place, and I’m glad it’s become so much less stigmatized than it was 20 years ago when anti-depressants became widely available. But people still make light of the condition and make fun of it. More education clearly needs to take place, and stories like Cornelius’ can help.

Other great things about this piece: the anecdotes about Pat Summitt and Niya Butts. I love to hear what’s on players’ minds.