Mental Health And Sports: My Story

When we look at athletes, especially the likes of LeBron James, Kevin Durant, or even Kevin Love – who just profoundly told the world about his struggle with anxiety, we look at them as superheroes. Superhumans, if you will.

When we look at them, we see them as just someone who can shoot a ball better than 99% of the world population, or even worse, we put them in this box where they’re so rich – what problems could possibly take place in their life? We ignore the human element. When the lights are shut off in the arena and for a moment in time the spotlight isn’t on them – they too have personal lives.

Marriage, kids, family.

For most, it can be hard to see that our favorite athletes are people and have personal struggles – just like us. That’s the bridge between the two worlds. You may not be able to shoot a basketball like Stephen Curry or throw a football like Aaron Rodgers, but there’s the one thing that makes us closer that’s deeper than sports: experience.

When Demar Derozan and Kevin Love came out with their battles is what made me realize this. We’re more relatable than I could’ve ever imagine. Who would’ve thought that?

Most importantly, it made me realize that my battle doesn’t discriminate and can happen to anyone and gives me the courage to tell my story.

For much of my teenage and adult life – I’ve battled with depression. Getting to the point where you don’t want to live, but you also don’t want to die. No matter how many good people I have in my life, I still feel alone. You wake up already wishing that it was night time. It’s a constant struggle with my mind. I don’t even know if I can point to a certain event in my life where I started feeling these kind of emotions.

However, as I go through life, the more I start to feel overwhelmed. When I get to that point, I just shut myself down and out from anything and everyone. I just want to sleep. The dreams that I dream invoke more enjoyable experiences than day to day life. It’s so mellow and calm. I yearn for it to translate to my everyday life, but that’s merely impossible.

For most of my life, I’ve always felt the pressure of having to live up to the expectations of others.

“Anthony, when are you going back to school?”

“Why move back to Michigan when you’re doing good here?”

No matter what it is I do – it feels like that’s never enough for anybody. I’m asked a million questions that make me second guess if what I want to do is even the right thing – even if what I want to do is going to make me the most happy. What’s worse than that is always having to pretend to be happy for everyone else –  when in reality I just feel sadness inside. I don’t even need to have a reason for feeling that way, but I still feel the heaviness in my heart. Feeling like I always need to make everyone else laugh, or feel important because I know what it’s like to feel otherwise. It gets harder and harder everyday to do that, but I still find a way.

It’s a huge hurdle to an already overwhelming process.

I went through a stretch where I was at my lowest point. I hit rock bottom. I wasn’t eating, all i did was sleep, and I lost all motivation and purpose. Everyone around me was scared and I had just hurt the most important person in my life. Though it was the darkest period in my life, it ultimately saved my life. I forced me to decide whether I was going to stay like this and continue to hurt everyone around me or if I was going to do something about it. It was hard, but I had to take a like into myself and realize that I had to confront my depression head-on. I wasn’t able to ignore it anymore. I’m in a better place than I was two-three months ago. I still have my moments where it creeps up on me, but I don’t let it take control. I’m still fighting and always will as long as I have a breathe in me.

Anyone who knows me personally will read this not knowing that I was going through this. Which, goes back to the original point, everyone is going through something that we can’t see.

No matter if you know the person or not – you never know what’s going on inside a person’s mind. Most importantly, you never know what someone is going through. For those reasons, take the time out of your day just strike up a small conversation or even say hi. I hate that we always have to remind each other to be good people because that should just come natural. Be careful in what you say because words matter.

For those going through the same experience as myself, you’re not alone. What you’re going through isn’t unordinary. It’s not weird, I promise. Don’t be afraid to get help and keep fighting. I’ll be standing right next to you, cheering you on.

Kevin Love and Demar Derozan, thank you.
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