Just a week after Toronto Raptors star and viable MVP candidate DeMar DeRozan came forward to reveal his struggles with depression and anxiety, Kevin Love, 5-time NBA All-Star and NBA Champion, did the same.
In a piece for The Player’s Tribune — a publication for athletes by athletes — Kevin Love opened up about his struggles with anxiety, why he chose to share his story, and how it has unexpectedly affected his life.
“…looking back now I know I could have really benefited from having someone to talk to over the years. But I didn’t share — not to my family, not to my best friends, not in public. Today, I’ve realized I need to change that.”
Kevin Love first became aware that he was struggling with something just this year, right after halftime in a game against the Hawks on November 5th.
A combination of the rough start to the season, lack of sleep, and playing poorly led to the 6’10” forward darting off the floor into the locker room where he ended up on his back gasping for air. It was there where Kevin felt like he was about to die.
The wake-up call, however, didn’t come until two days later, this time after a good performance. Although only a couple members of the health staff knew what had transpired against the Hawks, the story hadn’t leaked, and he just posted 32 points in a win, Love was ashamed and wanted to keep his anxiety attack a secret.
“It was a wake-up call, that moment. I’d thought the hardest part was over after I had the panic attack. It was the opposite. Now I was left wondering why it happened — and why I didn’t want to talk about it”
The “playbook” Kevin has subscribed to his entire life — that men are supposed to suck it up and be about it — is the same playbook that made Love feel ashamed to share his story. In fear of being seen as less of a teammate and person, he suffered.
“I didn’t want to look weak. Honestly, I just didn’t think I needed it. It’s like the playbook said — figure it out on your own, like everyone else around me always had.”
That’s when Love decided to see a team therapist, meeting up a few times each month whenever he was in town. It was through this process that he found he hadn’t fully gotten over the passing of his grandmother and, more importantly, the power of talking things out. In talking with the team therapist, it was the first time he allowed himself to process the pain.
“I had buried those emotions since her passing and said to myself, I have to focus on basketball. I’ll deal with it later. Be a man.“
What Kevin Love and DeMar DeRozan are speaking on is a truth that transcends any income bracket, quality of life, or circumstance. The stigma of mental health — that, because it’s invisible it’s not real — is one that must be combated. People don’t talk about mental health enough and DeRozan and Love have recognized that needs to change.
Resources like Mental Health America, which takes screenings, offers support programs, and helps people suffering from depression and anxiety, are the types of programs that should be as common as over the counter aspirin and cough medicine.
Like Kevin said:
“Not talking about our inner lives robs us of really getting to know ourselves and robs us of the chance to reach out to others in need.”
It’s okay, to reach out. It’s okay to ask for help. Shout out to Kevin Love for that.