PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — Backup quarterback Mike Tomczak of the Chicago bears says he's happier and better able to handle criticism since he began psychiatric treatment.
"I don't like to deal with (Coach Mike) Ditka when he's chewing me out all the time," Tomczak said Thursday. "But when those situations arise, I know how to deal with them a lot better now.
"Hopefully, Coach Ditka and I won't have to face that issue. . . . We won't know until we actually get into a confrontation like that," said Tomczak, beginning his fourth year in the National Football League after playing at Ohio State.
Tomczak said he entered psychotherapy after last season.
"I was 25, I was without a contract; I was pretty stable, I thought," he recalled. "But when I went to look at myself in the mirror, I really didn't think I was that stable."
So he sought psychiatric help.
"I wasn't afraid to admit, 'Hey, I'll give it a try,' " he said. "You don't just go to one because you're sick mentally. There are professional people willing to help you. I thought I needed that at this point in my life."
He said his history of sideline confrontations with Ditka was not the main reason he sought counseling, although he worked on developing healthier ways to release emotions.
"It's a number of things. We all have problems when we go through life," he said. "I had a few emotional lapses that I was going through after the season. This was something I had to get corrected."
Tomczak said he worked with people in Columbus, Ohio, as well as in Chicago, and that the counseling is ongoing. There has been one general theme, he said: "Just be yourself. Don't let anybody dress or undress you.
"At times, I've tried to make everybody happy around me, instead of me being happy. You have to be happy with yourself first, before you can make your friends happy."