San Francisco Giants: Aubrey Huff Talks Anxiety and Depression in New Book

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San Francisco Giants
April 13, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants first baseman Aubrey Huff (17) hits a two-run home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the eighth inning at AT /

MS: “Explain the process you went through before deciding to publish your story of struggling with anxiety and depression?”

AH: “I felt a nagging feeling for a year, telling me “Aubrey, you’ve got to write a book. You have to share your story.” To be honest, a little voice inside my head kept telling me my story would not be interesting enough. That no-one really cares about some washed up junkie ex-ball player. I feel that even today. I mean what if the book tanks and we sell 100 copies? But I felt I had to get it down on paper… to just vomit on the page… once I got started writing, I found it pretty therapeutic.”

“Stephen Cassar got involved and helped me piece it together. But there was so much material to work through. The toughest part was to tell it in a way that made sense. Making something out of my ramblings. The end result is not bad.”

MS: “What positive feedback have you received for taking on this challenge? Have you heard from others and/or their families who have dealt with the same struggles?”

I would be asked to speak at high schools, and church groups and what have you, and so many people would come up to me afterwards and say ‘Man, I could really relate to your story.’

“Yes! This started right after I started talking about my anxiety and depression publicly. People were coming out of the woodworks saying I gave them courage to speak about their own struggles.”

“That also played a role in me wanting to write Baseball Junkie. I would be asked to speak at high schools, and church groups and what have you, and so many people would come up to me afterwards and say ‘Man, I could really relate to your story.’ They identified with my struggles with Adderall, and the anxiety and depression that sunk in once I stopped taking the stuff.”

Huff ropes a single to left, scoring teammate Pat Burrell in Game 3 of the 2010 NLCS

MS: “What is something you’d like fans to know about your struggles with anxiety and depression during your career?” 

AH: “The grind of the game really gets to you after a while. There is a lot of pressure to perform each and every day. You are on the road nonstop. And it’s hard for a non-player to understand that. For an outsider, I am sure it looks easy. I mean, if someone is getting paid millions to play a game he loves, how can that even be work right? And what right does he have to complain?”

“But at the level of the game the Giants and other pros play at, the pressure is insane. The guys really all want to play well, and give it their all. They don’t want to disappoint the fans. They don’t want to disappoint their families. But it’s hard for any guy to keep it all together. And some fans can get a little weird. You have to learn to stay off social media. People sniping at you from their mom’s basement. Those comments can really get to you.”

“I am reminded every time I watch a game on TV. You have guys throwing 100 mph fastballs now, like it’s no big deal. Even back 5 years ago, the 100mph club… you could count that on one hand. You have to understand. When someone is pitching at 100 mph plus, you have to start swinging before the ball even leaves the pitcher’s hand. You are basically guessing. Hoping for the best.”

You have to understand. When someone is pitching at 100 mph plus, you have to start swinging before the ball even leaves the pitcher’s hand. You are basically guessing. Hoping for the best.

“As far as anxiety and depression is concerned… that really didn’t kick in for me until I stopped using Adderall. But I had to. Adderall made me feel invincible, but pretty much destroyed my marriage. It’s a miracle Baubi is still with me to this day. The book talks about that in depth.”

MS: “How difficult is it for you to open up like this so publicly? Or is it difficult? Is there any sense of freedom being honest with people about what you’ve been through?”

AH: “I hate talking about the actual anxiety part of it. Until recently, I couldn’t even talk about it at meetings or on camera. But I know that I have to. To help others out there. I know how bad it got for me. And if I can stop just one guy from blowing his brains out, then I have done my job.”

MS: “What are your fondest memories of the fans in San Francisco?” 

“Giants fans are just amazing. I felt right at home the moment I set foot in San Fran. I still feel like part of a huge, loving family. The fans in San Francisco are truly world class and back their team 100%. It feels like you win as a team and lose as a team.  It’s an experience you don’t get anywhere else in the country. I miss the game. But I miss the fans the most.”

Huff makes a sensational diving catch in Right Field at Dodger Stadium

MS: “It is well documented about your relationship with Pat Burrell that dates back to Miami. What should fans know about Pat the Bat that we don’t?” 

AH: “Ha ha! You are gonna have to read the book for that! Specifically CHAPTER 9: Pat’s Johnson. Enough said. I played a role in bringing him to San Fran… that’s in the book as well.”

MS: “Do you see yourself getting back into the game in some capacity? Front Office? Coach? Analyst?”

AH: “I tried coaching high school baseball when I first retired and I absolutely hated it. But that was partly because I was so messed up, and equated baseball with pain. Maybe it would be different today, I don’t know. I tried several things. Just this week, I actually crossed over to the dark side. I just signed up to be an agent! My hope is to be a mentor for some of the kids that are trying to break through. Hopefully I can help them avoid a few of the mistakes I made. Not sure if I will love it yet, but it’s hard to sit on the sidelines and do nothing.”

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MS: “What is something about the 2010 season that fans do not know about that would help them appreciate how difficult it is to win a championship?”

AH “Clawing our way back into the title race was so hard. The guys were a true band of brothers. A band of misfits that just clicked and worked as a team. Every single guy on the team that year gave 110%. It was like a real rollercoaster ride with so many downs and a few ups.”

MS: “Do you feel like you are in a better place today personally than you were at the end of your playing career when you were struggling?”

AH: “I am in such a great place now, it’s night and day. I still have a day here or there where I struggle, but I have the tools now to navigate through them.”

Huff hits three home runs vs the St. Louis Cardinals on June 1, 2011

MS: “What would you tell someone who is battling with the same struggles that you’ve faced and feels like there is no hope? What has helped you the most in this journey through recovery?”

AH: “There is hope. I am living proof of that. But you can’t give up. I spend a little bit of time talking about how I made it out of the pit in my book, but it all comes down to having a plan, and creating a routine for yourself. You have to believe in something, and give yourself a sense of purpose.”

MS: “What would you tell a young kid who is playing little league and is dreaming of one day playing in the big leagues?”

“Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t make it. Don’t have a plan B. Chase after your dream with all your might. When you fall down, get back up, and fight back, twice as hard. I was told by so many people that I would never make it. There were so many times when I should have given up. And my story is not unique. I know dozens of guys in the bigs that have a similar story. But if you don’t chase after your dream with everything you have, you will get to be my age, and always wonder: ‘What if?'”

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For more information about Aubrey Huff’s new book, Baseball Junkie, go to Kickstarter to learn how you can help.