Depression: A 5 Year Journey as a USWNT Fan

I often get asked by family and friends, if I could change anything about these last five years, would I and if so, what?

Five years ago, today, I was diagnosed with clinical depression. I was told it would come and go on its own accord. I was told the medicine may help; may not.

Depression is its own breed – there’s no guidemap on how to maneuver through it. It has a life of its own and strikes differently in every life it meets.

It’s been five years and I still can’t tell you when the next time will be, if and when it does strike. It could be tomorrow, or it could be before I even finish writing this.

It’s fascinating how life works, though. Three years prior, I started following the U.S. women’s national team.

I’m not a soccer player; I never have and I never will be. It was only basketball for me; my childhood was basketball… I am aware that information may come as a surprise to some of you, but plot twists are good for the soul. Keeps you on your feet.

I’m going to be honest, I almost didn’t make it as a USWNT fan. Those early games, I didn’t know what I was watching. I didn’t know anything about soccer other than its objective: put ball in back of net without your hands. When I would follow a game, my laptop would be split in half: on the left would be MatchTracker, on the right would be a list of “google soccer terms”.

It was awful. It was embarrassing. It was rough. Though, no matter how hard – and honestly, how much – I wanted to exit out of the match, I couldn’t. There was, just, something about that team that made me want to continue to watch them, follow them and support them, even though half the time I didn’t know what exactly I was watching.

I became a USWNT fan three years before I was diagnosed with clinical depression. It wasn’t by some fluke, nor was it coincidental. I had my medicine, I had my escape, I had my cure three years before I even knew I would need it.

I’m 22 years old. I was diagnosed with it at 17, and I’ll probably have it for the rest of my life. I know that and I’m ok with that.

I’m an eight-year-fan of the USWNT. I didn’t grow up playing the sport. I can’t get through a single match without something confusing me, and it’s very hard admitting that to all of you because it’s a disadvantage I know I’ll always have, in regards to the team. I know that and I’m ok with that.

I may have clinical depression; I may not know a lick about this sport, in regards to other fans. I know that and I’m ok with that.

These last five years have been rough, they’ve been dark, they’ve sometimes even been unbearable. The USWNT has always been there for me, though – always on time, at just the right moment when I needed it the most. I know I can always count on them and it’s something I will never be able to thank them enough for.

I didn’t seek out this team; it sought me out. It saved me.

So, when I get asked if there’s anything I would change over these last five years? The answer’s always the same… No. Absolutely not.

This is the life I’ve been dealt with and I’ll be damned if I don’t get to experience it with my U.S. soccer scarf around my neck.

Jenny Smith

Birmingham, AL native. University of Alabama student. USWNT supporter. Mac and Cheese connoisseur.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *