Fandom and Socialization

According to a study published in MediCareful Living, One of the most straightforward mental health benefits of sports fandom is the sense of belonging and community that comes with it. Being a fan of a team opens the door to new social groups since your fandom gives you a connection to people you may not otherwise have had. Fan events can allow you to meet and share experiences with new people and grow even closer to your team! For example, you may get the chance to come together as a large group to watch an important game or meet a former player. Watching games or matches is also a great excuse to get together with friends!

It is good to be passionate about something. It gives you an outlet to reduce stress, socialize, and provide you with something to think about other than your current situation. I am passionate about Formula 1 racing. Everyone’s fandom is different. One of my best friends likes Formula 1 as well, but he is passionate about the NBA. I think he would watch every game if he could. What interests me is what happens to a fan during the offseason. I know I find myself longing for the time to go by for winter testing and then that first race in Melbourne. This year was worse because of Covid-19. Many of the first races were postponed or canceled, and the first race didn’t take place until July. It was a long, miserable wait. I found that I was out of sorts, desperate to have those talks with my brother, and longing for the sounds of engines starting up. During the offseason of most sports, there is still lots of activity; from chat rooms to video blogs to video games, there are many ways to engage in one’s fandom.

Fandom, whether it’s science fiction, sports, video games, or music, provides many beneficial outlets that have shown to be very positive for one’s mental health. Besides the neurochemical mechanisms that occur when participating in the activity or watching an event, there are socialization opportunities that can provide engagement to individuals with no other outlets. I have found that when I am at a concert or watching a race, I get a rush that I don’t get on just a regular day. I have also found that I get a great deal of enjoyment from engaging on chat boards, playing fantasy leagues, playing video games associated with my favorite sports, and reading articles.

Having a disability can lead to a very lonely existence IF YOU LET IT. You can isolate yourself and avoid social situations because you are embarrassed about your symptoms or are afraid or think it’s too much of a hassle. Being involved in a fandom of some sort is a fantastic way to socialize in a virtual environment, which means that most of the hassle of being involved is removed. 

I have found one of the most healing activities that I participate in is being with my friends, and especially talking about my favorite sports and activities. I have seen the adverse effects of isolation; I have friends and loved ones who have locked themselves away and won’t talk to anyone, which makes them more and more miserable. If I could only persuade them to engage with friends or family, I know how much better off they would be. Socialization is so important to one’s mental health. For years, I have made a concerted effort to regularly interact with friends and family, which has had a very positive effect on my mental well-being. The times in my life when I was isolated and candidly was feeling sorry for myself, I was lonely and miserable, and my symptoms were much worse. When you have a genuine connection with people, whether family, friends or those you meet through your fandom, you have a sense of belonging, which otherwise you might not ever experience. A sense of belonging always makes me feel accepted no matter what my physical limitations are; I’m not just known for my disability but for what I can contribute to a society that gives me confidence. For example, when I am talking to a friend or family member about Formula 1, and we can speak intelligently about the race, the drivers, the technical aspects of the cars, I feel somewhat accomplished.

I also got a PS4 for Christmas this past year. Now, I don’t sit around and play video games all day, but it gives me something I can do with my boys, and its another outlet to socialize with others that love the games that I do. My point here is that whether you emerge yourself in a sport, a video game, a TV show, and use them to engage with others, it can be very healing and satisfying. Everyone is looking for a sense of purpose; it’s a natural human desire. You might not find it right away. It took me two years after I went on disability to stop feeling wholly inadequate and immersed myself in the things about which I am passionate. I know that my purpose is to serve others, whether through my blog, through my church, The Boy Scouts, or the FCA, and embracing these things. The other part of my life is staying engaged with friends and family, immersing myself in the things I am a fan of, and intentionally finding ways to socialize. It has made a world of difference, and I am in a much better place emotionally than I was since I had my career. As we have discussed, there are many healthy ways to express oneself and to engage with others. I used to think that my job was the only way for me to do this. Still, I have now found many alternatives to engage with others in a meaningful way that provides close relationships, camaraderie, and avenues for self-expression. If you are searching for a new purpose in life because your circumstances have changed, start thinking. You can engage with others, how you can serve others, and ways you can express yourself through the things for which you are passionate.

Depression, The Disease No One Wants to Talk About

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According to, depression is defined as a condition of general emotional dejection and withdrawal; sadness greater and more prolonged than that warranted by any objective reason.

More than 3 million cases per year of of clinical depression are treated but it is a disease that people don’t want to talk about. There is a stigma associated with depression that shrouds the disease in shame that prevents many people from talking about it or admitting they suffer from it. Untreated depression kills many Americans every year. On March 25, 2001, my brother who suffered from untreated depression took his own life, so I am all too familiar with the deadly effects that it can produce. It was one of the most devastating events in my life. At the time I didn’t have a good understanding of mental illness and the impact it has on an individual. What did I do wrong? Did I fail him somehow? These are questions I struggled with for years. Two things I have learned since that time are Suicide is almost NEVER a selfish act (nothing makes me angrier than someone saying how selfish it is) and someone suffering from untreated clinical depression can be in such a dark and hopeless place that suicide can seem like the only way out; the only hope.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America:

  • Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year.
  • Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only 36.9% of those suffering receive treatment.
  • People with an anxiety disorder are three to five times more likely to go to the doctor and six times more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric disorders than those who do not suffer from anxiety disorders.
  • Anxiety disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events.

I have many friends and family members that suffer from depression and anxiety. When you see someone you care about that is suffering, it is one of the most helpless feelings. One of the key symptoms of depression is a lack of hope. It seems as though there is nothing to live for.  Now I don’t mean to suggest that all people that suffer from depression are suicidal. That is not what I mean here.  What I mean is that when there is a lack of hope, there is a sense that nothing in this world has any significant meaning and there is no motivation to do the things that once were enjoyed. Depression is not logical or rational. Two of the primary causes for depression are chemical imbalance in the brain and how we respond to many major life events. Now I am not a psychologist but this comes from years of reading on the subject and my own personal experiences. The chemical, for example, can be affected by many things such as a lack of dopamine in a Parkinson’s patient and serotonin imbalances in someone who suffers from chronic pain.  How we respond to major life events is yet another influencing factor.  Now you can have two people who react to the exact same situation in completely different manners so as a friend of mine pointed out Epictetus said that it wasn’t the thing that bothers a man but how the man thinks about the thing.

One of the most common symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease is depression. For years I have suffered from depression. I have tried dozens of medications and I have just now found a medication regimen that is somewhat effective. Now one thing I do feel strongly about is that just medication is not the answer. I believe an important component, if not the most important, is cognitive therapy. It is so important to talk to a trained professional on how one deals with major life events, one’s belief system and the understanding one’s true identity. 

Spirituality, which is part of my belief system and one of the factors that affects mood may not be a very popular subject but I believe that my faith in God gives me a sense of hope that lifts my spirits. Romans 15:13 (ESV): 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. I believe that the spiritual component of one’;s belief system has a major role in depression.

Because I have become so passionate about this subject, I have gone back to school and I am working on a Masters in Counseling. Since I am on disability, I am not working on a second career but there is a lot of people I can help through volunteer work. If you are suffering from depression and you are not getting help, please do. If you are unsure if you are suffering from depression, go to and take the screening test to see. On the resources page on the website there are links where you can get help. If you feel like you might’ve suffering from depression, see your Primary Care Physician as soon as possible. Don’t suffer needlessly; help is out there and there is hope.