Cavaliers' Kevin Love opens up on his battle with anxiety and his November panic attack
Love says he thought he was dying during a game in November, and was hospitalized with high anxiety
Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love has been an articulate spokesman on mental health in the NBA. After a panic attack that hospitalized him during a game in November, he spoke openly about the incident, his dealings with anxiety, and the stigma of mental health in the league in an article on The Players' Tribune in March.
Love again opened up about mental health and the importance of addressing it on Monday in an interview with Carson Daly on NBC's "Today" show, telling Daly that, during the November incident, he felt he was taking his last breaths on earth.
"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. I was running around looking for something I couldn't find."
Love went into further detail in a profile published by ESPN's Jackie MacMullan on Monday where he explained what the feeling of the panic attack was like.
"My heart was jumping out of my chest," Love said. "I couldn't get any air to my lungs. I was trying to clear my throat by sticking my hand down my throat.
"It was terrifying. I thought I was having a heart attack. I was very scared. I really felt like I was going to die in that moment."
Love has advocated for the NBA to address mental health and urged that it be done in a way where confidentiality for the player seeking treatment can be reserved. There is a stigma, he says, that may detract people in need of help to seek it if confidentiality is breached.
"People carry [mental health issues] differently," Love told ESPN. "Everyone has to come to their own conclusions when to address it. One of my favorite [TV shows] of all time is 'The Sopranos.' I'm sitting there watching it, and James Gandolfini is going to see a therapist. He's telling her, 'F--- this, I don't need this,' and by the end, he's like, 'I can't get enough of this.'
"That's a little bit how I feel right now."
Love has been encouraged by fellow NBA players for his courageous decision to speak candidly on mental health, including LeBron James, and he hasn't been alone in speaking up. DeMar DeRozan and Channing Frye have also broached the subject publicly in hopes of reducing the stigma associated with mental health. Now he hopes others will follow suit.
"It's an epidemic in our league," John Lucas told ESPN of mental health issues. "I'm talking about everything from ADHD to bipolar to anxiety and depression."
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