Kevin Love has opened up about his November panic attack and dealing with mental health issues while starring in the NBA in an essay for the Players' Tribune on Tuesday.
Love, 29, the star forward for the defending Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers, suffered the panic attack in the third quarter of the Nov. 5 game against the Atlanta Hawks and led to a stay in the Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland.com wrote.
The five-time NBA All-Star has not played since in the team's last 15 games after breaking his hand in January, Sports Illustrated reported. Love, who averaged 17.9 points and 9.4 rebounds per game before his injury, was expected to miss up to eight weeks with the injury.
"I'd never had one before," Love wrote in the Players' Tribune about his panic attack. "I didn't even know if they were real. But it was real — as real as a broken hand or a sprained ankle. Since that day, almost everything about the way I think about my mental health has changed."
Love wrote that while he freely shared this thoughts about basketball, he shared little to nothing about what was going on inside of him.
"Today, I've realized I need to change that," Love wrote. "I want to share some of my thoughts about my panic attack and what's happened since. If you're suffering silently like I was, then you know how it can feel like nobody really gets it. Partly, I want to do it for me, but mostly, I want to do it because people don't talk about mental health enough. And men and boys are probably the farthest behind."
Love said that while the panic attack was a wake-up call for him, it was still hard to share his experience at first.
"Call it a stigma or call it fear or insecurity — you can call it a number of things — but what I was worried about wasn't just my own inner struggles but how difficult it was to talk about them," Love wrote. "I didn't want people to perceive me as somehow less reliable as a teammate, and it all went back to the playbook I'd learned growing up."
Now seeing a therapist, Love wrote that he realizes how important it is to seek out help.
"Mental health isn't just an athlete thing, Love wrote. "What you do for a living doesn't have to define who you are. This is an everyone thing. … 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," Love concluded.
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