Kevin Love isn’t ashamed of his anxiety, and he hopes others living with it can feel that way as well.
The NBA star talked about dealing with the mental health condition on the “Today” show Monday, saying he felt like he had to keep his anxiety a secret before he finally got help.
“I just kind of brushed it off because in our sport or in life and being a man, you’re taught to suppress it,” Love told “Today” show anchor Carson Daly. “You’re taught to, in a lot of ways, suffer in silence.”
Love, who revealed he was living with anxiety in a moving Players’ Tribune essay earlier this year, stressed that it’s important that coaches, teachers and parents are compassionate about mental health and encourage young people ― particularly young men ― to speak up when they’re experiencing an issue. He also hopes those living with a mental health problem don’t feel like they have to keep it to themselves.
“For us, it was always ‘keep your chin up,’ which is fine, but don’t suppress your feelings. Don’t bury them, because eventually that’s going to add up and it’s going to surface one way or another,” he said.
“For us, it was always ‘keep your chin up,’ which is fine, but don’t suppress your feelings. Don’t bury them, because eventually that’s going to add up and it’s going to surface one way or another.”
The Cleveland Cavaliers player also discussed the symptoms he lived with, including “rage fits and going dark for a few weeks.” His anxiety went unaddressed, and he eventually had a panic attack during a game, which he mistakenly thought was a cardiac issue.
“I had a moment where I thought I was going to die,” Love said. “I had never experienced something like that. I thought I was having a heart attack. Heart racing, and I was running around looking for something I couldn’t find. I just wanted to get air.”
Data suggests an estimated 18 percent of the population, or about 40 million American adults, live with an anxiety disorder, which makes it the most common mental health issue in the country. However, many people don’t seek help from a professional due to a fear of being judged or shamed. Athletes like Love who are open about their anxiety can help change some of those negative perceptions about mental health.
Today, Love said he sees a therapist to help him manage his anxiety. He also pushes himself to be candid about what he’s going through, both with the public and with teammates like LeBron James.
“Having the courage to be upfront with this kind of thing has been unlike anything I’ve ever experienced,” he said.
If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also text HOME to 741-741 for free, 24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.