I get really depressed when my favorite athlete loses

The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:

I’m a self-employed single woman in my late 40s, and I get really disappointed and depressed when my favorite athlete loses.

I have several hobbies and enjoy traveling and dining with friends. I’ve lived a fulfilled life, and I was seldom affected and depressed by trivial matters before this.

After I became a fan of this athlete, however, my life changed. Now when that athlete loses, I’m so shocked that I don’t feel like working for a week or so. I don’t even feel like seeing friends. I’m aware that I’m abnormally depressed.

I don’t think I depend on this athlete psychologically. I like to live independently and haven’t felt lonely due to being single. I came to like the athlete simply because I was attracted to their style in doing the sport and their sincere attitude toward it, not to fill an emotional emptiness.

If I keep being shocked like this each time the athlete loses, it may affect my daily life. How can I cope with this?

S, Tokyo

Dear Ms. S:

You have a job, friends and hobbies and live a fulfilled life. You’re the type of person who is not affected or depressed by trivial matters. But then why are you so easily influenced by this one athlete losing and winning?

While reading your letter, I found myself thinking about challenges in life.

You’ve overcome difficulties at work and in human relations up to this point. I think it’s really tough for women to be single, build a working career and live a fulfilled life in Japanese society, but you have managed to get through these difficulties. Perhaps you had never before experienced something you couldn’t take care of by yourself.

The athlete can still lose even if you enthusiastically cheer and sincerely pray they win. You can’t play for them or extend a helping hand. How do we accept and get over things that are beyond our control — I think that’s a general challenge in life.

You’re depressed as a result of feeling helpless. Developing a good process for recovering from feelings like that will play an important role in your life from now on.

Junko Umihara, psychiatrist

(from April 26, 2015, issue)Speech

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