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How DeMar DeRozan is publicly fighting his depression to help others

DeMar DeRozan is an elite player in possibly the most competitive skilled sports league today. He’s averaging 23.8 pts and five assists per game, leading his Toronto Raptors to the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

Yet, despite being the the number seed in his conference, averaging career highs, and being an MVP candidate, DeMar DeRozan suffers depression and anxiety.

“It’s one of them things that no matter how indestructible we look like we are, we’re all human at the end of the day,” DeRozan told Doug Smith of The Toronto Star In an interview with that ran Sunday. “We all got feelings…all of that. Sometimes…it gets the best of you, where times everything in the whole world’s on top of you.”

DeRozan hinted towards these feelings on Twitter earlier this month.

It is estimated that up to 15% of the adult population will experience depression at some point in their lifetime and there are 350 million people worldwide who currently suffer from depression.

Yet, even with stats as encompassing as these, it’s still surprising that someone with DeRozan’s success could feel that way, right? Not according to the man himself.

“I’ve always been like that since I was young, but I think that’s where my demeanor comes from,” DeRozan said. “I’m so quiet, if you don’t know me. I stay standoffish in a sense, in my own personal space, to be able to cope with whatever it is you’ve got to cope with.”

What appears as someone who’s laid back and reserved, is really an individual engaged in an internal battle.

Cases like DeRozan’s should remind us that anyone could be suffering no matter how their life appears on the outside. Thankfully, we have resources like Mental Health America that takes screenings, offers support programs, and offers help when any depressive traits surface.

“This is real stuff,” DeRozan said. “We’re all human at the end of the day. That’s why I look at every person I encounter the same way. I don’t care who you are. You can be the smallest person off the street or you could be the biggest person in the world, I’m going to treat everybody the same, with respect.

“…I had friends that I thought was perfectly fine, next thing you know they’re a drug addict and can’t remember yesterday…I never had a drink in my life because I grew up seeing so many people drinking their life away to suppress the (troubles) they were going through, you know what I mean?”

It’s imperative that we look after our mental health. Because mental stresses aren’t as tangible as a cold or a broken bone, the ailment is usually dismissed and swept under the rug. On top of that, there’s a negative stigma around depression and those suffering from it.

That’s why it’s brave for DeRozan to make his struggle public.

At the end of the day, you never know what someone is going through. That fact alone should encourage us to handle every human interaction delicately.