One of the best things about sports is the lessons we can learn from the sports world that can actually be applied to life. I’m not talking about the regular themes such as fairness, healthy competition, honesty, teamwork, dedication, and determination – all of the oldies but goodies.
Here’s another lesson, courtesy of NBA basketball star, Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Earlier this week, Love revealed that he has been experiencing panic attacks. He privately spoke to his teammates about it. They have shown him support. He is seeking help, and things are improving for him.
The big lesson here: It’s okay to talk about emotional and mental illnesses, including anxiety and depression. In fact, it’s MORE than okay. It’s necessary in order to get the professional treatment and care needed to overcome this challenge. And, it’s necessary so that the people closest to you know what’s going on with you. They can give you support, understanding, and compassion. Or, they can give you space you may need as you deal with what’s in front of you.
With all of the stereotypes about people who experience anxiety, depression and such, it’s understandable why people in these situations keep this on the down low. Most end up suffering in silence, as Love said he did until recently.
Love talked about his panic attacks – which began to adversely affect his work and other parts of his life. He eventually shared his truth with the world and sought help. Love wrote an essay online titled “Everyone is Going Through Something,” in which he chronicles his personal journey that involved therapy and self-exploration to put him on the path of healing.
“So 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.”
– Kevin Love, NBA Basketball Player
Writing this essay and posting it online sent the message that this can happen to anyone. Even a top-flight athlete. Even someone who is rich and famous. A big, beautiful home, or a fancy car, might make some of us outsiders think: “That person inside is rich. What problems could he or she possibly have?” But unless you know that person or have direct, first-person access to that person, you don’t know what goes on behind those closed doors of that home. You don’t know what’s in the mind and heart of the person in that fancy car.
It’s worth saying again: It can happen to anyone, and those going through these sort of challenges are not alone.
Love’s story also acts as an important reminder that there is help out there; that there can be a happy (or happier) ending to this. You can deal with this. You can enjoy the important people, places, and things in your life. And you can achieve your goals, despite this setback.
Sure, we have heard all of this before. Many times.
But when it comes to helping someone who really needs it, aren’t these messages worth repeating?
This is how Love ends his essay:
Mental health isn’t just an athlete thing. What you do for a living doesn’t have to define who you are. This is an everyone thing. No matter what our circumstances, we’re all carrying around things that hurt — and they can hurt us if we keep them buried inside. 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. So 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.
For being courageous enough to publicly address something so private and personal, I say let’s all show some love for Kevin Love.