Out in the Open

'The rhythm of baseball is quite soothing for anxious folks'

Stacey May Fowles on how baseball helps her cope with anxiety
Stacey May's view of the diamond, with her three bases tattoo in frame
Listen8:42

Stacey May Fowles' baseball romance, maybe even obsession, really started in 2011.

Anxiety is something she's dealt with a chunk of her adult life but that year was a particularly hard one for her.

Stacey May was diagnosed with depression and says she was housebound a lot of the time and didn't care about anything. 

"I hadn't really loved anything for a while because I was depressed. [Baseball] just became sort of this light in the dark. And I just found the more I loved it, the more it gave me," she says.

At first, it was something to rely on and an escape from her real life.
Stacey May Fowles is an award-winning novelist and essayist.

"I find the rhythm of baseball quite soothing for anxious folks."

Except when it isn't.

Stacey says she's had moments when she's had to leave her seat and ride out a particularly stressful moment in a game in the stadium concourse, watching it on the television.

She says baseball feels like a training ground for her emotions in some ways. 

"As an anxious person I tend to be very reserved about my feelings. I tend to hide the way I feel...When I'm at a baseball game I'm ridiculously emotional...I've cried at baseball games. I've screamed at baseball games…All of my reactions are sort of over large…Anxious people tend to want to be really safe and I let myself be vulnerable to the game."

Baseball also taught Stacey deep lessons about life and anxiety that she writes about in her new book, Baseball Life Advice: Loving the Game that Saved Me.

"Baseball teaches me constantly that things are changing and evolving and anything can happen and that what is happening now is not what's going to happen tomorrow.

"One of the more terrifying things about anxiety is that you'll be stuck in it endlessly. And that's just not the case. Today's close game is tomorrow's blowout."