Cleveland Cavaliers star forward, Kevin Love, has been opening up about his personal struggles with anxiety and depression to help break down the stigma surrounding mental health. After suffering a panic attack during the third quarter of a match against the Hawks last November, Love started taking his own mental health seriously and came forward with his journey.
“My heart was jumping out of my chest,” Love explains. “I couldn’t get any air to my lungs. I was trying to clear my throat by sticking my hand down my throat.
“It was terrifying. I thought I was having a heart attack. I was very scared. I really felt like I was going to die in that moment.”
“Everyone is going through something,” declared Love in a March 2018 open letter published on The Player’s Tribune. In the letter, the basketball star details his own experiences, the reasons he struggled with opening up, and the relief that came with finally confronting his problems head-on instead of holding them inside like he had for so long.
“Be strong. Don’t talk about your feelings. Get through it on your own.” This was the mantra he had been taught since he was young, especially growing up around athletics. But, he clarifies, “mental health isn’t just an athlete thing… This is an everyone thing.”
The past year has really brought this truth to light. After the tragic suicides of high profile and successful celebrities like Robin Williams, Kate Spade, and Anthony Bourdain, we are starting to realize that mental health is an issue that can and does affect anyone; it’s in the spotlight, on the red carpet, in the office, and on the playground.
The stigma against discussing any sort of mental illness deters those who are suffering to speak out, out of fear they’ll be labeled as weak, incompetent, or crazy. The truth is, struggling with mental health doesn’t make you any of those things; it makes you human.
Love leaves us with this advice: “if you’re reading this and you’re having a hard time, no matter how big or small it seems to you, I want to remind you that you’re not weird or different for sharing what you’re going through. Just the opposite. It could be the most important thing you do. It was for me.”