Episode 19 - Pro Athlete Mike Marjama Talks Eating Disorders and Baseball
Mental Note is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. Search for Mental Note, and subscribe so you never miss an episode!Check out our podcast, Mental Note. In this episode former professional baseball player, Mike Marjama and his mom talk about eating disorders and baseball.
It takes an incredible amount of will, talent, and work to become a major league baseball player. So why did the former catcher for the Seattle Mariners, Mike Marjama, give it all up to share his story?
This special Q&A with Mike and his mom takes a look at how we can better equip each other to live full lives, accomplish great things, and rethink traditional masculinity.
Mike Marjama: [00:00:00] All right, guys, here we go, about to start. Here we go. Check it out.
Ellie Pike: That is the voice of Mike Marjama. Mike is a lot of things. A media personality.
Voices: Mike Marjama.
Ellie: A former Major League catcher for the Seattle Mariners, and an advocate spreading awareness about men with eating disorders. On today's special episode of Mental Note podcast, we sit down for a Q&A [00:00:30] session with both Mike and his mom, Kim. We'll talk about how Mike's disorder took root, how he and his family found treatment and recovery, and why he retired from baseball in order to help raise awareness of this deadly disease. Along the way, we'll also dig into what it takes to live a well-rounded life and how to support young men to embrace a more healthy view of masculinity. You're listening to Mental Note podcast. I'm Ellie Pike.
[00:01:00] Let me just have you both introduce yourselves informally. You're Kim, but I'll let you introduce yourself, where you're from, what do you do?
Kim Marjama: I am Kim Marjama. I am from north of Sacramento in a little town called Granite Bay, California. We have been there, my husband and I, raised our three children there. I am an OBGYN nurse practitioner [00:01:30] and have specialized in adolescent health for the last 22 years. Now I am still doing that, but chasing my children around the country with their activities, whatever they do.
Ellie: That's awesome. Mike, introduce you.
Mike: I am Mike Marjama, I'm a former Major League catcher for the Seattle Mariners. I'm now an ambassador for the National Eating Disorder Association and traveling around and speaking on behalf of the millions of men [00:02:00] that are suffering with eating disorders and I like to think really the more that are suffering overall with mental illness and really everyone on their walks of life as they struggle with things in life. I like to think I'm an advocate for humanity and really bringing about, hopefully, positive change.
Ellie: Awesome. Thank you both for being here. We just want to hear a little bit about your story. This is such a treat to have a Q&A with both of you. Mike, let's start with you. Just the very beginning of your eating disorder story, what were some of the first [00:02:30] signs of your eating disorder as it started to crop up?
Mike: I think when we start talking about eating disorders, we start talking about the stereotypical traits that are associated, whether it be perfectionism, obsessiveness, control, any of the traits that [unintelligible 00:02:46]. I had those signs early when I was a child right when I'm a baby.
Kim: From birth.
Mike: From birth, thank you, Mother. Having them, it was one of those things where I was very [00:03:00] enthusiastic, but I also had to have control. All these passions of mine started manifesting into me being creative and trying to create some things and ultimately extend into getting into recess in junior high school and playing tag and wanting to get tagged and wanting to get a girlfriend and these fascinations that I had, these traits ended up turning into, how can these manifest now into this desire to have a body that I looked like the male models and that would help me get a girlfriend?
[00:03:30] Really, we think back to those days and for me, it was Abercrombie and thinking about the guys with their shirts off and it was like, "Well, how do I be that guy because if I'm that guy, I'm getting a girlfriend, period?"
I rationalized it, if I don't eat anything, then I won't get fat, and if I work out a ton, I get big and strong. As we [00:04:00] know, it's not that easy.
I think with anything we look at the fad diets, we look at, what can get me to where I want to get to now? That was my way of rationalizing it. One of my friends said, "Hey, why don't you come to wrestling?" It gave me tools to feed into this negative self-body image.
Ellie: When I heard you speak earlier, I had the privilege of hearing you speak at a conference, you said, "I like to be in control, but the one [00:04:30] thing that I couldn't be in control of was the eating disorder. The eating disorder had control over me." Can you talk a little bit about what that felt like to be in your body and not have control?
Mike: It's the worst feeling ever. I think that's why when people have control like myself, when you lose that, it's a freakout moment. I think that for me, I was so malnourished to a point, I didn't really even know. I thought everything was normalized. We start [00:05:00] seeing that more often as when you are severely malnourished, you're not performing at optimal brain function.
In what ways can we address that? When people think about eating disorders like, "Well, it's a mental illness." Well, yes, but it has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. Why? Because it affects your body. We like to think that we can affect it by only looking at the mind, but we know that if you're severely malnourished, no matter what type of mental skills or coping skills or any tour of treatment you try to give to a [00:05:30] patient or someone struggling with an eating disorder, it's not going to work because your brain cannot function properly.
You probably have an over fascination with food. For me, I've always tried to focus on the longest time is my mental game or my sports psychology that helped very much so, but it was also the fact that the professional help was actually getting me nourished enough to where I could be receptive to those ideas.
Ellie: Absolutely, so let's back up [00:06:00] before you found that professional help, Mom, we have Mom, here her name is Kim, Kim, what was that like for you because I know you care a lot about early intervention and you are a healthcare provider? Here you are watching your son get really sick throughout high school. What was that like for you to find treatment for him?
Kim: I was desperate. I had given advice to so many people about just screening. I'm an OBGYN so I would deal with girls [00:06:30] who had absence of menstrual cycles and other physical symptoms. To watch my son have a lot of these behaviors was terrifying. My husband was really skeptical at first. I'm like, "We've got to do something. This is not okay." He's like, "He's going to grow out of it." I'm like, "Yes, you're probably right.
He probably will grow out of it" and thinking I could just maybe intervene on his behalf or do some different things and he would get better. [00:07:00] He didn't get better, he got worse. It got to the point that we were really terrified that he would lose his life. It didn't really matter anything anymore, school didn't matter, baseball didn't certainly matter, sports didn't matter, none of these things mattered that we were just wanting to save his life.
[00:07:30] It was terrifying and desperate at the time is the feeling that we got, just this desperate attempt to do whatever we could do to help him. The thought, I do remember vividly thinking, he might die. I couldn't live with myself if I didn't do every possible thing that I could to stop that from happening, so I was terrified at the time.
Ellie: [00:08:00] Oh, I can only imagine. Were you able to find treatment centers that took males, especially adolescent males?
Kim: In our community, there were only a couple of programs that were in Northern California, period. The cost for them were upwards of $60,000 to $80,000. Trying to scramble about, "How are we going to come up with an extra $60,000 to $80,000 in the next couple of weeks?" was pretty tough. We were fortunate enough that I work for [00:08:30] an organization, for Kaiser Permanente, that happened to have an intensive eating disorder program.
The problem is they only can take a couple of kids at a time. They're looking at 8, 10, 12 children at a time, and they have to wait for a spot to open up. A spot happened to be open. It wasn't specific for males or females, but there weren't males in the program. It just wasn't really talked about, and it [00:09:00] wasn't really supported that there would be males and certainly, athletes.
Ellie: Mike, what was that like for you to enter treatment? One, were you slightly resistant?
Mike: No, not at all.
Ellie: Are you kidding me?
Mike: I did not resist at all. I was like, "Guys, throw me into treatment. I want to get better right now."
Kim: Yes, he said, "You, guys, are crazy. You don't know what you're talking about."
Mike: Right, but that's the point. I think that's the dynamic we have, being a teenage guy. It's a hard dynamic. I think that [00:09:30] adolescent phase, we're trying to even come into our own bodies, we're growing through puberty and it's like, I don't even want to talk to my parents. I'm trying to fit in at school, I'm trying to get popular, I'm trying to get a girlfriend.
Ellie: Trying to be cool.
Mike: I'm trying to be cool. There's so many factors going on and my parents are like, "You have an eating disorder." I'm like, "Oh my God, how is that going to look on me at school now?" I started hiding myself a lot of the times. I would go into the library and eat lunch alone or I'd go eat out on the hallway, and people are like, "You're just the odd kid." I was like, "Oh, trust me, I'm battling something [00:10:00] something right now, but I'm also trying to hide it." Then mom's like, "Yes, you're going to go into treatment." I'm like, "Oh God, I'm going to get judged." I think that that's oftentimes what we don't-- It's a hard thing for us. It's a hard thing for men to not feel emasculated by the topic or even, let's just take this out of the eating disorder frame, let's start talking to this about mental illness in general. We have this association that if you have a mental illness, we're going to put you in a straight jacket and then you're going to go into a room with padded walls, right?
Ellie: Right, and it's all white, that's what a treatment center looks like. [00:10:30]
Mike: Exactly. You're just like, "Guys, what?" I had the opportunity to tour the facilities here in Denver for ERC. I was like, "This is awesome." They're like, "We have a Zen room, we have a massage room. We have this fireplace." I was like, "Do all the patients use it?" "No, but it's there in case they want it." There's this option. There's a way of a holistic approach that isn't just to "Let's define the mind. Let's not define just the body. It's taking the holistic approach to making you the balanced individual."
I think [00:11:00] if we all looked at it that way and said if you were to walk around and say, "Can you have too much balance in your life?" I don't think you're ever going to get somebody to say, "No, no, no. There's too much balance. You need to be out of whack." No. You need balance in everything in life, no matter what it is. It's finding where that is, and treatment and everything like that is such an amazing place in the way it's progressed through the years. Even being very new to it, it's still being inundated with knowledge [00:11:30] on how the field has grown, and it's incredible.
Ellie: We know diets are not the helpful way for anybody to learn a good relationship with food, right?
Mike: No. I think that that's part of our culture, where we're in this culture now, where it's it's microwave. I forget the years, it's got to be 60, 70, the microwave years and you push a button and in two minutes, you get what you want. You're like, well, we do that for everything now. You graduate college. You want to make a million dollars out of college, and you're going to do it in your first year and you're like, "Whoa. It doesn't [00:12:00] work that way."
You want to have this amazing body. I don't care how many teas, pills, powders, whatever you want to take, it's not going to happen overnight. It's not going to happen in a week or two weeks or three weeks. It's not going to happen. It's redefining what health is. We can say that you look at a person, this is what our culture does. There's a thin person that looks athletic. They look like they're in shape. They're "healthy," but what you don't understand is they have multiple organ failure going on [00:12:30] because they're abusing something or because they're shutting down their body in certain ways. You may look healthy for sure, but it doesn't mean your body is healthy.
Ellie: Bringing it back to your story, I imagine that there were times that you looked like a normal guy, or people were not recognizing this eating disorder because were a male or you were an athlete or chalking it up to [00:13:00] the norms of society.
Mike: Well, I think Mom would say that too. I was a hard worker.
Kim: For sure. That enthusiasm, that energy, that drive, it is something that was innate in him. It gave him this unique creative drive and his hard-working work ethic. Well, no one will outwork him. However, it also gave him this rigid control to commit to something that was unhealthy, and he was all in. [00:13:30] He's been all in, and he was all in.
Ellie: Would you chalk any of that to perfectionism?
Mike: People ask me, they're like, "Do you still struggle? Do you still have triggers?" I'm like, "Of course, I do. It's life." We are always going to have triggers and struggles, but through treatment, I've learned healthier ways to deal with those things, such as the unhealthy path. We'd go out to dinner and not have my fork right on my right side and the knife right there and they'd be perfectly in line, they'd be perpendicular with the edge of the table.
Kim: [00:14:00] He has to set everything up, organized. [crosstalk]
Mike: Oh, here we go who do you think reaches over and moves the knife a quarter turn so it's not pointing at twelve o'clock now it's pointing at like one? My inner, I'm just like, "Oh my gosh." I'm sitting there, I'm like, "Breathe, breathe, breathe, breathe, breathe, breathe, breathe" and then it's like, "Okay, I got to move it. I got to move it." Now there are times where I do have to move it and then there are times where I don't notice or then I do notice, I'm like, "Okay. It's not that big of a deal. It's okay, I'll leave it."
Kim: You can't see in a podcast to watch this, [00:14:30] it's fun, that he won't--
Ellie: I'm going to narrate this. Kim just knocked his water bottle over, and we're going to see how long it takes before Mike has to fix it because he's a perfectionist.
Kim: I have knocked it over. [crosstalk] Right. It's bothering him right now. It's eating him alive.
Ellie: He's staring at me, and he's trying so hard not to look at the bottle.
Mike: No. See, but I've learned that this is just--
Kim: It's just a water bottle on its side, rolling around right there.
Mike: She's trying hard right now, she knows.
Ellie: I'd like to be a fly on the wall at your Christmas dinner.
Mike: No, you don't. No, it's a lot of fun, but see that's, [00:15:00] I think, what's the part of what's made this so special is the value of having the recovery of having this to where now I'm able to speak about it more and having Mom and the people that were involved in it go, "You know what, we went through this hard time, but we are so much stronger now." At that time, to answer your previous question you had further, it's like, yes, I hated Mom and Dad.
I had nothing, I didn't want anything to do with them. I'm like, "Screw you, guys. You, guys, are putting me through hell, I can't stand you." Now in hindsight, I get choked up [00:15:30] about it because it's like, "My parents just loved me. They just wanted the best for me." We can have a deeper relationship. I'll say probably Mom our relationship has gotten deeper because of it. They made it so much more precious. The little things like her knocking my water bottle over right now, as much as it irritates me, it's like this is just so--
Kim: It's a world record you haven't picked it up yet. I'm just going to say you're doing great.
Ellie: He is also holding his fingers together.
Ellie: Well, let me ask, Kim, you've watched your son be really sick. You've watched him go through [00:16:00] this process of recovery that's not perfect, that's long. You've watched his perfectionism still serve him in good ways. He became--
Kim: Very much so.
Ellie: Yes. He played baseball for the Mariners. That's really huge, and he's doing an incredible job as a NEDA ambassador, traveling all around, sharing his story. How have you seen him change through recovery?
Kim: Well, he's still the same Michael he's always been. He's still a perfectionist. He's still enthusiastic. He's still 100% in no matter what [00:16:30] the task, or the game, or the event is, he's 100% in. The differences now is that he does so much more to help himself in a healthy way. He's figured out how to help him how to work, how to set healthy boundaries. He has a lot of positive affirmations. He has rituals too, but there's a part of OCD that's healthy, that's [00:17:00] organized and--
Mike: It gives you confidence. For me, it gives me confidence. Mom talks about those things. By having accomplishment, so a lot of people write down tasks for the day and they feel like when they can check off one of their tasks for the day, they feel like they've accomplished something, and it's given them momentum to the next task and the next task, creating a list. Some people are like, "I can't create a list because then I obsess about and all this other stuff."
For me, what it does is allows me to have organization in which, okay, I need to get this done, I need to get this done, and then when I cross it off, it's like, [00:17:30] boo-yah, I just finished that thing. I'm onto the next one and then I accomplished that one. Not that it's doing it in a healthy way, it's just doing it to where I feel like it gives me direction and not a negative direction. My list and the things that I come up with, or maybe it'd be a little bit of journaling in the morning, or maybe it'd be that focus, maybe it's just read a good quote and it just gets me started on the right foot that now the directions and choices I'm taking on that list are not done in a healthy way.
Rather than on that list if formerly I had [00:18:00] to go to the gym for a few hours, now it's like, no, no, no, I don't need to go for a few hours, I need to go for an hour or 45 minutes to an hour, but I'm going to focus on just feeling good. I used to go to the gym like, "Okay, I've got to do this many sets of this many reps" and if I didn't do it or I was going to run this far and if I didn't do it, if I walked at any point, I'd punish myself and restart over again.
Now it's like if I need to walk, I'll walk. If I go there for five minutes and I'm not feeling it, I'm going to leave. Before, I would push myself to do the extreme, now it's like-- I remember the other day [00:18:30] I had just gotten back from DC to do the briefing with Congress, and I had meetings for like three days straight, and it was all day and then I fly all the way back from DC to California and I get in, and I was jetlagged.
I'm like, "I got to just get up and go for a walk." I was like, "You know what, I'm just going to run over to the gym really quick and just go on the treadmill and walk." I was like, "Well, I'll see if I can get a good workout in." I had the anticipation of getting a good workout in, but that afternoon, I had to fly out here, and I just felt like I needed to move my body. That's just the feeling I had. Instead of going [00:19:00] to the gym and working out for two, three, four to over-exercise because I felt like I needed to do it, I literally walked in there and got on the treadmill for five minutes and was like, "Okay, I'm done. I don't need any more."
Ellie: I'm thinking about a lot of people I know that they're on the brink of, "Is recovery for me? Is this possible for me?" They would hear your story being like, 'Well, that's awesome, but how do I get there? How do I get to that point of balance or moderation or listening to my body?" Can you give me a clue [00:19:30] into some of how you learned to get there?
Mike: My coach in junior college, his name is Andy McKay, he's now the Player Development Director for the Mariners. He talked about the mental game, sports psychology side of things. When he taught me about coping skills and mantras, although I heard about that treatment, I'm like, "Come on, guys. I'm a dude. I don't want to talk about meditation." Then I realized that it was helping me on the field, so I started incorporating that in life. I used these little tools. Now I will say this, it doesn't happen overnight. You don't just go like, "Okay, I want to be recovered. [00:20:00] Boom. I'm recovered." It doesn't happen that way. It takes baby steps. There are times I would relapse. There are times I'd go back, but I learned, at every step along the way, that every obstacle I faced was an opportunity for me to grow.
You cannot change the fact you have an eating disorder or you are in it. You cannot change the past. This is where you're at at this moment. [00:20:30] For me it was getting with the professional care, getting nourished to where my brain could function properly. Then from that point, what I started noticing is, Viktor Frankl, quote, I'll go back to this again, I speak about it all the time, "Between stimulus and response, there's that blank period, and that's our basic human freedom, the power to choose."
You don't have to just be a reaction, you get to choose when something happens, you get to choose your reaction, attitude is a decision. I decided that from that day forward when I read that quote, and then I read that book and Man's Search for Meaning and the power that I heard on me saying, [00:21:00] "I have a choice now," now that wasn't going to be possible without me being nourished or anything like that. I started using little tricks like that.
Every time something came into my mind, and I always talk about the superhero as well, I viewed myself as being a superhero. Elsa and Frozen is the example I always use, but she's got this amazing power. If she uses it for bad, she has this power and, for me, that would, say, be my perfection, my obsessiveness, my compulsiveness, all these things. If I use it for bad, I become the villain, I'm Elsa, I freeze everything. [00:21:30]
Now if I use it for good, I become the hero. At what point do I start making these conscious decisions? When things are happening, I'm going to make that decision to be the superhero. Every time I did that, I started noticing I gained confidence in myself. I wasn't this guy that was summed by his eating disorder. The eating disorder cannot live without you, you can live without the eating disorder, so by making those conscious decisions, it's not going to happen overnight, but I like those goals. I like the [00:22:00] little golden nuggets. I like the baby steps and I think those little processes of turning those obstacles into opportunities, you gain confidence, and that helps you along the way.
Ellie: I think that that's a really powerful piece for people to hear. It's just one step at a time, it's finding the help and the treatment that you need also but knowing that it's a long road, and it's not linear, and it's going to look like a whole bunch of loops and turns, but knowing your value direction and where you want to head, and for you, that was a lot of-- [00:22:30] You went ahead in the direction of choosing and feeling your own power and valuing certain things. What were some of the things that you've valued along the way that just helped you choose recovery?
Mike: Oh, again, my career, I wanted to save my career in baseball-wise, but then it was my family, I wanted to be okay.
Kim: Yes, he wanted a place to live.
Mike: Yes. That is true.
Kim: We would have thrown him out if he didn't go to recovery, he wanted a place to live.
Mike: Yes, right. I wanted to play, I wanted [unintelligible 00:23:00] I wanted [00:23:00] to be able to play baseball. I wanted to do these great things, but like you said, it's not an easy road, but that's where the beauty in life is for me. The beauty in life are those struggles, is overcoming those struggles to I'm still here.
Ellie: I love that something that was given to you that you said, "I fought this, I fought recovery, and it's uncomfortable." You're the only male in treatment. You have all these goals and accomplishments that you want to move towards. I love that. It sounds like at some point you started to soak it in for yourself [00:23:30] and that it became yours to own, and it was your choice as you moved forward. I want to jump back to-- You said one of your values and your goals was "I wanted to play, I wanted to play Major League Baseball." You played for the Mariners. What was that like for you to be in athletics where it's so hardcore, so competitive and you were in recovery?
Mike: It's tough. I would say it this way. Here's my personality. We'll say it this way. [00:24:00] You look at celebrities, you look at, say, Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade. We look at the people that they seem like they have it all. I've noticed that a lot of times I worked myself so hard to make or, and this is me, to accomplish something. Now, for more people that may say more business-savvy, I'll give it to you this example, this way, we are working so hard at times, we push ourselves to extremes.
We will do anything to be able to get more money in business [00:24:30] so we can buy our freedom so we can take the vacation and go to this place. We're spending all this time working hard so we can buy freedom, but in doing so, we are sacrificing freedom to work so hard to buy freedom. It's a complete paradox. At what point are we doing the same thing to our bodies?
At what point are we trying to get somewhere to get to this result, but we realize that life isn't about-- I forget the quote. It's like, "Oh, you have the born date, your death date, and then there's a dash in the middle. [00:25:00] Life's about the dash." It's cliche, but you have this end period. The end goal is not there. For me, in baseball, I need to get to the big leagues. I need to get to the big leagues. If I don't, I'm a failure, but then you get to the big leagues and you want to star and then you star and then you want to make the all-star team.
You make the all-star team, then you want to make Hall Of Fame or you want to make this amount of money. [unintelligible 00:25:27] Then when you get there, [00:25:30] so you get the big leagues, you're so worried about getting sent down. You're worried about losing it. How do you get to a point where that is enough? We never find a place of peace, of balance, of what is okay, what is essential to my human what's essential for me just being a human being?
For me, it became that in baseball. It was very hard to find that for me, it was, was I okay to be acceptable because my whole life I'd worked to become a big leaguer? I finally got it. Knowing my personality, I have to work for something. [00:26:00] I felt like I just lost everything that I needed to work for.
Ellie: What was the decision like to leave?
Mike: It was easy.
Ellie: Really? Tell me about that.
Mike: Not easy. Sorry. It's not easy. It wasn't an overnight thing. Everyone goes, "Oh, well, here," but this is Mom comes down to San Francisco and the Giants are having an opening night at AT&T, we're in San Francisco. My family comes [00:26:30] up to my room and I have a therapist there because my body's hurting, but I also have my computer, my phone, and my tablet out. I'm looking at all the scouting reports, and they're like, "Hey, let's go out to the Mexican food places. It's right below the hotel here, we'll go to Mexican food, we'll eat."
I was like, "No, I'm not going." They're like, "Why?" I'm like, "I had to prepare. If I'm not prepared, I could get sent down if I have a bad game." I didn't enjoy it. I spent so much worried about just trying to stay there and not lose my job as a big leaguer, so I don't want to get sent back down to the minor league. The whole time I'm stressed out, not even enjoying it, there were years I've called Mom, saying, [00:27:00] "I'm not really liking baseball anymore. It's a job. I feel like I'm stressed out all the time." Mom could attest that more. It was hard for me.
Kim: Well, I think the underlying, the eating disorder was just another symptom of what the underlying issue was for you. It was the depression, the anxiety that goes hand in hand with a nice job. How long was that? Did you just pick the water bottle back?
Ellie: Yes, Mike just picked up the water bottle, that was good 15 minutes.
Kim: That was solid work, honey.
Mike: [00:27:30] [crosstalk] I'm sorry, I hate you for that.
Kim: I think the underlying issue was really the perfectionism led to a certain level of anxiety for you and the anxiety, the flip side of anxiety is depression. He really has had that. We'll probably always have that. I think all humans have a certain level of that, but for him, it was hard to see him [00:28:00] struggle and be really wound tight at the Major League level. It was great. We loved it.
We loved seeing him achieve his dream. It's just surreal, and we were so proud of him, but we also watched, we also know him, and we also watched how hard it was on him. It wasn't an overnight decision. It was lots of discussion, it was lots of thought. [00:28:30] It was his involvement choosing his time to come and say, "Yes, I'm a professional athlete who struggled with an eating disorder." For him, that was incredibly brave knowing that there's going to be consequences. He's going to take some flack on that. There's going to be some feedback for that and he's like, "I'm okay. I'm confident enough."
Mike: It's okay to have problems. It's okay to be vulnerable. We make these healthy choices. We empower [00:29:00] other men, we empower them, we empower women. We empower everybody to be the exact person that they want to be, whatever their hopes and dreams are, and I really wish that. I don't think there's anybody in the world that would say, "You know what, I don't think that that's a good idea."
If they do, then it's not in really logical [unintelligible 00:29:18] logical reasoning in that is allowing people to be who they are. I think that that is something that always drives me to allow men to be, "It's okay to have problems." Trust me, I still have them. [00:29:30] Let's just address them in a healthy way.
Ellie: What strikes me about that is that you are one of the leaders in doing that. Otherwise, it wouldn't have made national news that "Mariner player comes out having a history of eating disorder," and it was all over. Then it was a huge deal when you decided to become a National Eating Disorders Association ambassador and actually make that your calling, at least this year, [00:30:00] to share your story and to teach that it's okay to talk about life not being perfect. It's okay if you're a man who has an eating disorder. There's help out there, so you are a leader in that. I am so grateful for that. I know that so many people have started talking about it like, "There's a guy out there now. There's a guy talking about it." I'm curious what your hope is, just for people who hear your story throughout individual [00:30:30] conversations, throughout this podcast throughout your news interviews, and all the highlights, what's your hope for people as you share your story?
Mike: That's a really good question. Thank you for those kind words, first of all. "It's not about me" is my overall message. This isn't about me. This isn't about my story. This isn't about me. I have found the things that I'm passionate about. I'm very passionate about eating disorders, [00:31:00] but I'm more passionate about humanity. I'm more passionate about men and women. Whatever you aspire to do, whatever it is, to have that hope and dream and whatever that is, to be able to reach that.
I want those things that come to fruition. What are your passions? What are your dreams? We're all going to come into a problem, always. We always are going to have problems, but what are the nuggets? What are those little tools you can have so when you don't get that girlfriend in junior high school when you started or high school or you need this [00:31:30] or you fail a test, that it doesn't translate to you being down on yourself for the next three tests?
You're going say, "You know what, it's okay. I failed, it's okay. I'm going to do better on the next one." That optimistic self-talk is so key. Hopefully, the little nuggets that I can empower in people that I've learned along my journey through baseball, through eating disorder, through my journey in life, hopefully, that those messages from my story and hopefully, those things I can portray will be [00:32:00] the things that encourage people when they get down, to say, "It's okay, I may be in this dark place, but the better days are ahead."
Ellie: Well, thank you. I, certainly, am taking some of these nuggets with me. I just want to thank you both for sharing your personal stories and reminding us that it's not just about your story, it's about a grander story that we're telling ourselves. Thank you both. I really appreciate you.
Mike: Thank you. I love tuning in so please keep this stuff going. It's the best. I'll be an avid listener [00:32:30] to continue here, of course.
Ellie: Thank you.
Kim: Thank you.
Ellie: On that note of being your best self, we would love to hear from you and about what your journey looks like. We're already preparing for Eating Recovery Day in May. We'll be featuring recovery stories from you, our listeners. To join in, simply write a short letter that embodies the spirit of your journey. [00:33:00] Then record it on your phone and send it to us at email@example.com, that's firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mental Note is sponsored by Eating Recovery Center and Inside Behavioral Health Centers. To talk to a licensed counselor and see if treatment is a good idea for you, call 877-411-9578. Mike Marjama can be followed on Twitter @MMarjama. That's M-M-A-R- [00:33:30] J-A-M-A, on Instagram @mike.marjama, or visit his website at mikemarjama.com. This episode was produced and edited by Sam Pike, with a recording by Kevin Larkin. I'm Ellie Pike and happy new year. [00:34:00]
[00:34:02] [END OF AUDIO]