Yesterday, Cleveland Cavalier forward and five-time all-star Kevin Love wrote a piece for the Player’s Tribune titled “Everyone Is Going Through Something,” and it spurred an extremely important conversation that is close to my heart. A conversation about mental health.
For those of you who know me or have been following my blog for a while, you probably know this about me. I created this blog with a specific purpose in mind—to help people. I shared my story, a story that still continues today, in the hope of helping others, and I write posts every week in the hope of helping others.
Kevin Love wrote this piece for that same reason, and I commend him for doing so. Mental health is such a touchy topic, and I am sure (although I don’t have first-hand experience) that being a man in the sports industry makes it even more touchy, which makes him extremely brave for opening up about his experiences.
In the piece, Love writes about a panic attack he had during a game on November 5, 2017, and what happened as a result of it. He goes into detail, describing (to a T) what the panic attack felt like, (The ever-familiar feeling of “Oh my God, I’m going to die,” that your mind creates as a result of the attack.) and he talks about the actions he took after experiencing it.
He talks about going to the hospital, because that is everyone’s first reaction to a panic attack, and the confusion of being physically healthy and not understanding the terrifying experience he just went through.
Love talks about the Cleveland Cavaliers setting him up with a therapist, and how relieving it was to talk about his experience and dig into his life. He talks about a familiar struggle many of us have gone through, and brings the reality of mental health into the light.
Love’s hard-hitting point at the end of his piece was simple: “Everyone is going through something that we can’t see.” It’s incredibly true. Heck, if you look at the replies to Love’s tweet sharing his article, you’ll see just how many people have faced the same or similar struggles.
Everyone—every single person—is going through (or has gone through) something that we can’t see. So why are we all so hesitant to share it? Why do we keep these parts of our lives in the dark instead of bringing them into the light. After all, if you have overcome or are overcoming your struggle, you should be damn proud.
You should be proud that you sought help. You should be proud that you opened up to others. You should be proud that you took your mental health by the reigns, owned it and came out a stronger person.
Yesterday evening, Love sent out another tweet asking people to share their stories about mental health.
I’m sure many of you have read my story, but that’s only the beginning. You see, the accident I was in took a much bigger toll on my mental health than my physical health, and it took years to show.
I’ve always been a paranoid and slightly anxious person, but a few years ago it increased tenfold. At the time, I was a student at Kent State University, and I was struggling every single day. I spent nights awake crying, for what seemed like no apparent reason, and I began to travel home every weekend in the hopes of home making me better.
The weekends I spent at home were filled with even more tears. I would be awake at night, crying to my dad about what was going on. I felt sad, depressed and hopeless. I was sick of my anxiety taking control of my life, and I was afraid of it getting worse. I wanted to be back to my old self, and I didn’t know how to get there.
That’s when I returned to counseling. You see, right after the accident I saw a grief counselor to help guide me through losing Lexi, but at the time I felt like I didn’t really need it. Fast forward to me crying with my dad, when I felt like counseling was my only option. I contacted my counselor, and arranged a time for us to meet to talk about what I was going through.
I put everything on the table at our first meeting. I explained that I would lie awake at night thinking of worst-case scenarios. I was terrified to be alone. I was scared to drive in the dark, and almost every time I was driving I envisioned myself getting into a car accident. I had panic attacks almost every single day, and some days I wouldn’t even be able to attend class because I was afraid to drive there. I was losing control of my life and I was desperate to get it back on track.
That’s when my counselor diagnosed me with post-traumatic stress disorder.
The next several months consisted of weekly counseling sessions focusing on EMDR, a process used to help people with PTSD. It’s a wild technique, but it’s amazing how well it worked for me. I wrapped up counseling at the start of the summer, right after the three-year anniversary of the accident. I felt better, and I felt like I had the tools to keep feeling better.
At least, that’s what I thought.
Sometime in the beginning of 2016 I had to give a deposition relating to the accident. I went in with an open mind, but it completely destroyed me. It was like I finally crossed the finish line of a marathon just to get violently swept up by a tornado and dropped at the starting line. I had to relive every single detail of the accident, and my mind didn’t know how to deal with it.
For a while, I tried to handle it on my own. I thought that the counseling I went through would be enough to help me through this, but I was wrong. I was beginning to have constant panic attacks again, and I couldn’t get out of the rabbit hole my life was heading down. I was frustrated, concerned and just wanted to be “normal” again.
So, I went back to counseling, and God, am I glad I did. Similar to Love, I talked about things that I never knew bothered me. I had this tangled web of problems creating this incessant panic and anxiety inside of me, and my PTSD was only exemplifying it. Through the next year of counseling, I got to know myself. I better understood myself, and I truly got better.
You, me and Kevin Love will be okay
There were many twists and turns that arose in my counseling sessions, and each one helped me get better. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’m magically cured. Now I just know what triggers my anxiety and panic, and I am better equipped to handle it.
Mental health is ongoing. You have to take care of it every single day; just like physical exercise. Once you do this, you can help others do it, too.
“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.” – Kevin Love
We are all dealing with something. Every single one of us. The key to overcoming it is to talk about it—just like Kevin Love did. You don’t have to write an article or a blog post and you don’t have to see a therapist, but you do have to talk about it. Talk to your family or friends. Talk to me. Talk to strangers. You just have to let it out, because if you don’t you may never get the help you need.
Talking to and crying with my dad on the weekends made me realize that I needed professional help. Who knows, maybe if I would have held it all in, I would have never realized that, and I would never have gotten to the place I’m at today.
Please, talk about your struggles.
Thank you Kevin Love for bringing this extremely important issue to the front of our minds. Everyone has a story and everyone has a struggle, so why don’t we all share it? Love inspired me to open up (even more than I have before) about my story, and I hope he inspires you to open up about yours too.
I’m listening. Kevin Love is listening. Everyone’s listening.