Look around your office, school or household — or into the mirror — and you’ll find people close to you struggling with their mental health and wellbeing. It can manifest in many ways, and isn’t often easily identifiable.
And it isn’t easy for those suffering to talk about it either.
But the stigma around discussing and treating mental health is, we hope, slowly diminishing thanks in part to those in the spotlight using their vast platform to speak out about their own struggles.
In the world of sports, Kevin Love is the latest to go public with some of the personal challenges he’s been facing.
The 29-year-old self-described introvert says that he had a panic attack following halftime of a Nov. 5 game against the Atlanta Hawks.
We were at home against the Hawks — 10th game of the season. A perfect storm of things was about to collide. I was stressed about issues I’d been having with my family. I wasn’t sleeping well. On the court, I think the expectations for the season, combined with our 4–5 start, were weighing on me.
I knew something was wrong almost right after tip-off.
I was winded within the first few possessions. That was strange. And my game was just off. I played 15 minutes of the first half and made one basket and two free throws.
After halftime, it all hit the fan. Coach Lue called a timeout in the third quarter. When I got to the bench, I felt my heart racing faster than usual. Then I was having trouble catching my breath. It’s hard to describe, but everything was spinning, like my brain was trying to climb out of my head. The air felt thick and heavy. My mouth was like chalk. I remember our assistant coach yelling something about a defensive set. I nodded, but I didn’t hear much of what he said. By that point, I was freaking out. When I got up to walk out of the huddle, I knew I couldn’t reenter the game — like, literally couldn’t do it physically.
The Players’ Tribune
Love mentions that his entire outlook on mental health has changed and that he has been going to therapy in the wake of that first panic attack.
Earlier this season Love was in the eye of the Cavaliers’ storm after he left a game versus Oklahoma City early with illness and missed the team’s next practice, prompting teammates to reportedly question his behaviour.
Two weeks ago, Toronto Raptors all-star DeMar DeRozan bravely came forward to discuss his own mental health and battles with depression. Love cites DeRozan’s public comments as motivation to speak out himself:
One of the reasons I wanted to write this comes from reading DeMar’s comments last week about depression. I’ve played against DeMar for years, but I never could’ve guessed that he was struggling with anything.
It really makes you think about how we are all walking around with experiences and struggles — all kinds of things — and we sometimes think we’re the only ones going through them. The reality is that we probably have a lot in common with what our friends and colleagues and neighbors are dealing with.
So I’m not saying everyone should share all their deepest secrets — not everything should be public and it’s every person’s choice. But creating a better environment for talking about mental health … that’s where we need to get to.
Because just by sharing what he shared, DeMar probably helped some people — and maybe a lot more people than we know — feel like they aren’t crazy or weird to be struggling with depression. His comments helped take some power away from that stigma, and I think that’s where the hope is.
The Players’ Tribune
The entire article is well worth your time and another reminder that it’s always best to talk.