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Tears of a Clown

Continued (page 3 of 3)

Kim chronicled her complicated relationship with her father in her 2010 book Swinging From My Heels (written with Alan Shipnuck). She now says her dad, who is also her swing coach and was her caddie the first three years on tour, believes her on-course troubles are caused by distractions. "He thinks there's an attitude adjustment that needs to be made," she says. "I was focused on different things when I first came out on tour, and obviously the influence of social media, Twitter, my blog, things like that. ... He says these things have come into my mind, that there's clutter in my brain that shouldn't be there." When asked if she thinks her father would agree to be interviewed by Golf Digest, Kim says, "No. I wouldn't allow it anyway." She alludes to a conflict between her parents (who live with her) and her boyfriend, French. "He's my rock," she says. "I don't want to get into it, but he's not really welcome in the house."

Two months after her near-suicide in Spain in 2011, while caught in another depressive episode during the U.S. Women's Open in Colorado, Kim finally called her regular doctor about her problems. Kim was immediately prescribed Sertraline (better known as Zoloft), which she took for six months to help her turn things around. Her mood swings subsided, and she learned to face the fact that she had lost substantial distance. "Everyone could go ahead and say, 'I remember when you used to hit it so far,' and instead of breaking down and crying, I was just like, You know, that is true. I used to hit it far. But I also used to be younger. And I also used to be injury-free."

The on-course results still aren't there, however. Kim won the Sicilian Ladies Italian Open in 2011 but hasn't performed well on her home tour. Her best finish in 2012 was a T-49 at the ShopRite LPGA Classic in June, and she missed more cuts than she made this season. Kim's close friend Jeehae Lee, a former LPGA Tour player who now works for IMG as Michelle Wie's road manager, says she has noticed more of a change in Kim this year than others. "When she's down about something, usually you can talk her out of it, but this year, it's been very difficult to put a positive spin on issues and get her to see it from the other side. She's kind of stuck in that downward spiral. But nobody can really get through to her."

Kim says she is happy she has friends to talk to, but she doesn't believe in counseling. "I'm not going to pay a therapist for me to talk about my feelings and for them to say, 'Well, Christina, what do you think?' I answer my own question, and then I give him money? No, I don't roll that way."

Instead, as a way to let out her feelings, Kim talked about her depression in her blog (thechristinakim.wordpress.com) last July. The public reaction and subsequent conversations have been therapeutic, and the dark moments have been mixed with hopeful ones. And even though she went off her medication last January ("I experienced it. Worked with it. Don't think I need it."), she keeps some around just in case.

Kim finally emerged from her dark bedroom to pose for the photos that accompany this story. And she has a plan. "I'm going to take a boxing class, and I'm going to start running again, because pounding the pavement was always something I loved," she says. "I've got a lot of negative ions built up inside of me. I need to lay a beating down on something, and I'd rather it be a sand bag than having to snap at someone. I'm going to break free and move forward."

Kim's goal is to lose weight and build her strength so she can play those five rounds in Daytona in December without getting tired. "Hopefully I can have a wonderful ending to this chapter and give hope to others. If I can help one person by practically losing my voice from screaming and being down to hell and back, and going to Q school and making it, then that's fine. I'm willing to make that sacrifice."

If you're suffering from depression or emotional distress or know of someone who is and would like more information, visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

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