Earlier today, The Players' Tribune released an essay from Cleveland Cavaliers forward, Kevin Love. Entitled Everyone is Going Through Something, Love revealed an episode of panic during a November game against the Atlanta Hawks. From the moment the game started, Love felt something was wrong. Here is a premier athlete, and he was winded within the first few minutes of a game. His head spun and he lost control of his body. His physical symptoms suffocated his abilities so much that Love spent most of the second half on the locker room floor trying to catch his breath. Someone from the Cavs organization found Love in his state and helped get him set up with a therapist.
Love went on to speak openly about the death of his grandmother and how her passing affected him. He wouldn't allow himself to grieve. His thought being that he's a basketball player. Basketball players are men and men don't show their emotions.
That sounds completely irrational, but that's an all too common thought process among men. Love wrote that he didn't consider talking openly about his struggle with depression and anxiety until Toronto Raptor's shooting guard, DeMar DeRozan, discussed a recent tweet with the Toronto Star.
DeRozan spoke freely about his struggle with depression and anxiety. Here is an NBA super star, playing during All-Star weekend in his home town of Los Angeles, with the weight of panic crushing him despite all the fame, money, and success. He spoke on how you never know what someone is going through, and that he hope's his story can help people going through the same internal struggle. It's a great interview and can be found here.
It's pretty rare to hear two men talk about mental health the way Love and DeRozan have. The stigma of depression and anxiety exists everywhere, but for young men, it's an extraordinarily difficult barrier to break. Growing up, I always heard from different avenues of culture how boys were supposed to just suck it up, be a man, and stop being a pussy. It doesn't take a PhD to connect the dots on why so many men express their feelings with physical violence. That's not an excuse for abusive behavior, but I think the examples people like Love and DeRozan are setting for young boys gives them the confidence to express themselves in a healthy manner as adults.
A lot of men my age and older didn't have role models talk to us about our mental health. It took me a long time to acknowledge my own struggle with depression, and I still have trouble with that stigma. I'll talk about what I'm going through, but in a shaky, round-about way. I think that's why I became a writer. It's an extraordinarily difficult exercise to be direct and vulnerable in front of other people.
Love and DeRozan are incredible NBA talents and equally unbelievable role models. I hope their stories mark the genesis of other men speaking to our boys about taking care of their mental health.
I write the words I'm too uncomfortable to say.