Kevin Love wants everyone to know it is okay to seek help.
The Cleveland Cavaliers forward opened up about the panic attacks and mental health issues he has been battling throughout his life on Tuesday in an essay published in The Players’ Tribune titled “Everyone Is Going Through Something.”
He also spoke about the stigma that men and athletes in particular face about confronting their demons.
It was something Love did not think he needed to do until the 29-year-old suffered a panic attack during the middle of a game against the Atlanta Hawks on Nov. 5.
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“For 29 years, I thought about mental health as someone else’s problem,” he said. “Sure, I knew on some level that some people benefited from asking for help or opening up. I just never thought it was for me. To me, it was form of weakness that could derail my success in sports or make me seem weird or different.”
Love was forced to leave the game in the third quarter after he struggled breathing and felt his heart racing. He was taken to the Cleveland Clinic by a team employee where tests determined he was okay and he was back on the court two days later.
The incident still weighed on him, though, and the thought of anyone finding out bothered him, too.
“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,” he said. “But none of those people could help me in the way I needed when I was lying on the floor struggling to breathe.”
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Love sought help from a therapist and made a breakthrough discussing the passing of his grandmother — someone who helped raise him — but he said he never quite grieved her death because he thought he needed to stay focused on basketball.
He said it was eye-opening just to talk about.
“In the short time I’ve been meeting with the therapist, I’ve seen the power of saying things out loud in a setting like that,” he said.
Love has not played since breaking a bone in his left hand on Jan. 30. A week before getting injured, teammates Dwyane Wade and Isaiah Thomas called out Love for leaving a game against the Thunder early with “migraines” and missing practice the next day.
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Love does not address it in his essay, but according to Cleveland.com he had another panic attack that game and disclosed his struggles to his teammates for the first time in that meeting.
Love said he is publicly addressing his mental health problems now because he was inspired by Raptors guard DeMar DeRozen, who opened up about his battle with depression last week.
“It really makes you think about how we are all walking around with experiences and struggles — all kinds of things — and we sometimes think we’re the only ones going through them,” he said. “The reality is that we probably have a lot in common with what our friends and colleagues and neighbors are dealing with.”
The essay received tons of positive feedback as LeBron James and others on social media lauded Love for opening up.
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“You’re even more powerful now than ever before @kevinlove!!! Salute and respect brother!” James tweeted.
Former Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel, who recently opened up about his bipolar disorder, also praised Love’s story.
“Must read. Salute my guy,” he tweeted.
ESPN’s Hannah Storm and J.A. Adande additionally voiced their support.
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“Kudos to @kevinlove for sharing this- our #TotalHealthForum with @Nba and @KPShare last week was about the need to address mental health- athletes can be such powerful advocates & it takes courage to talk about it as he has,” Storm tweeted.
“It’s great to see @kevinlove continue the dialogue on mental health and the need to speak about your problems,” tweeted Adande.
Actor and podcast host Jay Mohr, who like Manziel has experienced mental illness, also praised Love.
“[email protected] just became my favorite human being. CONGRATULATIONS and thank you for your bravery brother … I’ve been there,” he tweeted.
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