Category Archives: sports

Should delusion ever be accepted?

For the past few days, I’ve been semi-obsessed with the tragic story of Greg Plitt, who was killed by an oncoming commuter train Saturday. Greg was a successful fitness model, personal trainer, and motivational speaker. He was filming a video for one of his fitness products when the train struck him.

Why was he filming on train tracks — something that is both dangerous and illegal? According to anyone who knew him, he was an adrenaline junkie who loved to take these kinds of risks. In fact, this wasn’t the first time Greg filmed one of his videos on train tracks. According to the Los Angeles Times, he often compared himself to Superman, sometimes going so far as to “act like Superman.” As anyone who ever watched the Man of Steel knows, Superman was “more powerful than a locomotive.”

It’s predictable that social media is filled with judgment and condemnation. How could he be so stupid? All muscles, no brains. And those are some of the kinder remarks. I’m not judging Greg. From what I’ve seen, he seemed like a kind, dedicated, and caring man who really loved helping people with their fitness goals.

But I do wonder about this: whenever he “acted” like Superman, was there anyone around him who was bold enough to say, “No, you’re not Superman.”? I’m guessing that didn’t happen. I’m guessing that most people were won over Greg’s charisma, his “anything is possible” mantra — and yes, his rock-hard abs and Hollywood-handsome face. (I will admit that as a gay man, I can definitely see the appeal there.)

But here’s the thing: “anything” is NOT possible. Not when it isn’t realistic. Greg was human, and humans are no match for locomotives. That’s why it’s illegal to do just about anything on train tracks other than ride a train. And he was not Superman. In this case, Greg was delusional. And delusion — even when it comes in a handsome, muscular package — can lead to tragedy.

As someone with depression and anxiety, I’m fascinated by what kinds of “crazy” society accepts, and what kinds that it doesn’t. Something tells me that if Greg was not fit and handsome, people would have reacted differently to his Superman obsession. But that was just too easy to overlook.

Greg paid a horrible price for this delusion. But maybe his death will be a wake-up call, and make people realize that delusion — in any form — is toxic and unhealthy. Greg was someone who seemed to get a lot of joy out of motivating people. Something tells me he would approve of this lesson.

When the New England Patriots win, I win

Today is most definitely a good day. My New England Patriots beat the Miami Dolphins and clinched another AFC East title. The Super Bowl seems like a real possibility.

I watched the game — and even better, I watched it with one of my best friends. On both our faces, there were smiles all around. I’ve posted before about my love of watching sports, but I’ll say it again: if I’m really into the team and the game, nothing gives my endorphins I jolt like sports does.

That jolt came in handy today. My day started with a trip to the pharmacy because I needed a refill on my anxiety meds. It was a little disappointing, because I had hoped that my dosage would be reduced. After the week I had, though, I knew that wasn’t going to be possible.

But I had the game–and some nice social time with my friend–to look forward to. I just had to keep thinking about that.

So today, the Pats won. I got to spend time with a good friend. And yes, I have my anxiety meds–meds that do help me manage my daily life, even though I have a love/hate relationship with them.

Yes, today was big win, all the way around.

Surfing your way toward mental health

I heard this inspiring story on NPR this morning, about a program designed for people with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The prime element of the program involves — surfing.

Yes, surfing. Confession: the closest I’ve ever gotten to surfing is when I listen to the Beach Boys. But this innovative program makes sense. Part of it was born out of necessity. This story takes place in South Africa. And like most countries, access to mental health care is very difficult there. This is an innovative way to reach people who really need it.

Listen to the story here.

New web series explores links between concussions and brain damage in former football players

I’ve always loved watching pro football. I grew up in Miami, and came of age when the Dolphins had their perfect season in 1972, winning the Super Bowl that year and the next year as well. One of my fondest memories as a kid was going to Super Bowl 10, which was played in Miami. The Dolphins weren’t in that one, but the Pittsburgh Steelers were. My Cousin Bobby, who lived in Pittsburgh, got tickets for me and my grandfather. Memories like this stay with a kid forever.

I still love watching pro football. But, as stories about the pervasiveness of concussions and their lasting impact become more prevalent, I’ll admit that I’m in a bit of a moral quandary. For far too long, the NFL played down the seriousness of concussions. Now, as more and more players come forward with horror stories about mood swings and addictions, the NFL can’t look away any more. This new GQ web series tells the stories of a few of these former players, and the measures being taken to help them. Personally, I think the NFL needs to do even more. But at least it’s a step in the right direction.

How the New England Patriots are helping me cope

I’m really glad that the New England Patriots are on a winning streak–for more than the obvious reasons.

I’ve been a pro football fan all my life. And when the Pats beat the Jets last week for their third straight win, I actually thought to myself, “If I do something crazy to myself, I won’t get to find out if the Patriots make it to the Super Bowl.” That’s right — the Patriots are keeping me from attempting suicide.

Let me be clear–there’s a difference between thinking about suicide and actually having a plan for it. It’s actually common for people with depression to think about suicide often. It’s also common to be embarrassed to admit that. But I want to rid myself of shame and embarrassment. That’s one of the reasons I started this blog. So yes, I think about suicide often. But I am not suicidal. I do not have a plan. Fortunately, there are many reasons for this. And one of them is that if the Patriots make it to the Super Bowl, I want to be around to see it.

No matter how I feel before the game, the Patriots make me euphoric when they win. Same thing with the Red Sox. (Yes, if you haven’t guessed by now, I live in Boston.) The year I moved here was the year that the Sox won their first World Series in 86 years. I will never forget the shear, unbridled joy that swept through this city. And I will never forget being a part of it.

When I’m in a deep funk, I tend to forget that I can and have experienced joy in my life. Many times. I’m grateful that I thought about that when I watched my Pats last week. They are one more tool in my “mind trick” arsenal. When my depression tries to tell me that there’s nothing worth living for, I can fire back: “You LIE, you big black dog, you. There are SO MANY things to live for.” Like watching Tom Brady and the boys. Look out, Chicago Bears. You’re next!

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