Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers never considered his mental health important until one day, he had a panic attack mid-game.
“I was running from room to room, like I was looking for something I couldn’t find. Really I was just hoping my heart would stop racing. It was like my body was trying to say to me, You’re about to die. I ended up on the floor in the training room, lying on my back, trying to get enough air to breathe,” he recalls of the game.
Afterward, he started going back to his old ways of burying his mental health and ignoring it, but then questioned: “Why was I so concerned with people finding out?” He took this new found feeling and decided to meet with a therapist.
Love realized, “… it’s kind of strange when you think about it. In the NBA, you have trained professionals to fine-tune your life in so many areas. Coaches, trainers and nutritionists have had a presence in my life for years. But none of those people could help me in the way I needed when I was lying on the floor struggling to breathe.”
The therapist helped Love talk through his issues off the court that were affecting his ability to perform on the court. Digging down into the layers, Love realized how much he had been burying and even how much pain and anxiety he had been harboring from his grandmother’s death.
Love now meetings with his therapist whenever he is in town, saying “…it’s not some magical process. It’s terrifying and awkward and hard, at least in my experience so far. I know you don’t just get rid of problems by talking about them, but I’ve learned that over time maybe you can better understand them and make them more manageable.”
Love has noticed other players, like DeMar DeRozan opening up about mental health and hopes to do the same, saying “..creating a better environment for talking about mental health … that’s where we need to get to.”
Read more of his story in his own words on The Players’ Tribune.