NBA

Kevin Love says close friends saved his life in follow-up story about battling depression

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Portland native and current Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love has been one of the most outspoken professional athletes on mental health in recent years.

Love once again has publicly opened up about his mental struggles.

I wrote a story for Players Tribune in 2018. Today, I share with you my follow up. To those of you struggling out there — I hope this helps. 

From his first story titled, ‘Everyone is Going Through Something’ which was published on Mar. 6, 2018 on the Player’s Tribune website to his most recent one, ‘To Anybody Going Through It.’

Love detailed what it has been like for him living with depression.

Even in the best of times, my default setting was often dread. That’s just the way I’ve been wired since I was a kid. It’s like there’s a constant, low-level threat that I can sense in the pit of my stomach from the moment that I wake up in the morning. It’s like this white noise humming in the background, and it’s saying, Something bad is going to happen, any second now. That sense of dread would often be amplified by something in the news or by social media, and at any point could send me into a spiral…

Even after all the work I’ve tried to do on myself over the last two-and-a-half years, some days are just brutal.

If it hadn’t been for a couple of my closest friends, I don’t know if I would be here today telling my story.

Kevin Love

The 32-year-old described how basketball was and still is his outlet. He explained how he could relate to the late comedian and actor Robin Williams in how Williams would work himself so much both physically and mentally to wear himself out from thinking too much. 

 

For Kevin Love, who grew up in Lake Oswego playing Little League ball with Klay Thompson and also focused on his basketball career from a very young age, he described how would go into his pain tank:

Ever since I was a kid, I’d often put myself through hell in the hopes of numbing my mind. I used to think of it as going into my “pain tank.” If I wore myself out to the point of exhaustion, then I’d be mentally on empty, too. It was like I had to wring myself out completely so that at the end of the day I was just blank.

Everybody who goes through mental health issues has a unique story, but for me (and I think this is probably true for a lot of people), my entire identity was tied to one thing in a really unhealthy way. Way before I was in the NBA or even in college, my self-worth was all about performing. I was what I did, which I think a lot of people can relate to, whether they’re a chef or a lawyer or a nurse or whatever the profession. I just happened to play basketball. 

[RELATED]: How CJ McCollum believes Kevin Love has helped further the discussion on mental health

In Mar. 2018, when Love first opened up about his struggles with depression and anxiety, he admitted that for the entire 29 years of his life, he was never really comfortable talking about himself. 

"If it hadn’t been for a couple of my closest friends, I don’t know if I would be here today telling my story," Love said in the "The Players Tribune."

But Love detailed his first panic attack that he had ever gone through which happened on November 5 in the third quarter of Cleveland’s home game against Atlanta.

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. 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.

Kevin Love in 2018

That same year, Love made the decision to launch the Kevin Love Fund to help raise awareness for mental health.

“We’re beating down the stigma as much as we can,” Love said when he appeared on The Today Show nearly two years ago.

Love’s powerful words from his first write up on the Players’ Tribune are a great reminder with everything that is going on in this strange and unique 2020 world: 

I want to end with something I’m trying to remind myself about these days: Everyone is going through something that we can’t see.

I want to write that again: Everyone is going through something that we can’t see.

 

Read Love’s full story, ‘To Anybody Going Through It,’ right here.