Christina Kim is the first to reveal her selfish motives. And she completely understands if the baring of her tortured soul prompts you to say TMI.
“We all have our own personal demons,” Kim said Thursday after an opening-round 66 at the LPGA’s Kingsmill Championship. “I’ve been down to Hades and back is how I feel.”
Kim’s demon is depression, and as countless of us know, directly or indirectly, it can be a chilling, paralyzing and calamitous illness.
A 10-year LPGA veteran, Kim long has emoted like few athletes, for better or worse. She’s won twice on tour, most recently in 2005, and was a clutch player on three United States Solheim Cup teams.
But she never seemed to fulfill her potential, and this year, to be kind, has been awful. Kim, 28, hasn’t finished among the top 45 in any tournament, and prior to Thursday had nearly as many rounds in the 80s (four) as in the 60s (five).
Injuries led to bad golf, which led to frustration and more poor rounds and …
“Just this awful cycle,” Kim said, “and then it affects your personal life. You get short with your friends and the people that you love, your family.”
Two months ago, in a blog of more than 3,200 words — three-plus times as long as this column — Kim detailed her battle with depression and how she nearly came to suicide.
It was April 2011, at the European Nations Cup in Spain, and Kim had endured another troubling round.
“That evening, during a players’ party, held in a beautiful building overlooking the ocean, I went for a walk around,” Kim wrote. “There was loud music, delicious food, wine and champagne flowed freely, and the inescapable sound of laughter. None of that appealed to me in the least. All I wanted was to be alone with my thoughts.
“I walked around the entire building, searching for some solitude, when I came across a corner overlooking the ocean that was not only unoccupied, but was also completely free of anything related to the party. I stood at the corner, gazing down at the Mediterranean, and leaned over. It was quiet, peaceful, and oh how I wanted to be a part of that silence! It was too easy, for me to just step over the wall of the building, as it was only waist high, and plummet two stories into the ocean.”
Only a flurry of calls from her boyfriend and then-caddie, Duncan French, kept her from leaping.
Kim’s words are easy to find online. They are terrifying, poignant and, when describing her “robust flotation devices,” hilarious.
“It was pretty tough to read,” said Jane Park, one of Kim’s closest LPGA friends. “It was tough to see the ups ands downs in her game and in her mood, but I always knew she’d come out on the other side.”
Park, too, has combated depression.
“We leaned on each other,” Park said. “We talked every day. … It helps when you have a friend like that.”
Kim hopes her blog will comfort and encourage others, but “the main reason that I wrote it was to help myself. For me it was very therapeutic. Even for me, as vocal as I am, it’s hard to actually have the words come out of your mouth.”
As Kim referenced in her blog, she is hardly the poster child for depression. Indeed, on the surface, she’s the antithesis: successful, charming and popular, embraced by a loving family.
“She’s just always had such an awesome personality,” said rookie Mo Martin, who’s known Kim since their junior golf days in California. “Completely outgoing. She’s been a blessing for the game, she really moved the LPGA forward and has been quite a character to follow for everybody.”
But that’s the rub with depression. Chemical imbalances can render anyone helpless, angry, hopeless.