What could I possibly have in common with all of these people? It’s pretty simple: depression, anxiety, panic attacks. And thanks to three prominent NBA players it’s finally getting some press. Kevin Love is the latest to discuss his mental health issues. DeMarcus DeRozan and Channing Frye have already discussed their challenges.
Like any health condition, if one hasn’t experienced it, one cannot understand it. There are so many people in our society who firmly believe those with mental health illnesses possess the ability to “buck up” and act normally. Do they honestly believe that we enjoy feeling horrible? It isn’t like a broken arm that is easily fixed.
Even with treatment and medication, these conditions may persist in a lesser form. I’m glad it’s finally getting some press but it’s taken public figures, in this case professional athletes, to lend it some acceptability. Because our illness isn’t tangible, it’s misunderstood.
I’ve had people behave awkwardly toward me only to find out they had never spoken with a person with an anxiety disorder. What? I communicate just like everyone else. It’s when I’m quiet that I’m waging an internal battle. Once, while attending a graduation ceremony, I confided to a “friend” that I wasn’t feeling well and was having an anxiety attack. I was told to go outside, get some fresh air, and get hold of myself. I found another ride home for my “friend” and then went outside, got in my car, and left. But this is what happens. People don’t want to deal with us. It was a tough lesson.
If it takes celebrities to help enhance the understanding of the plight of depression, anxiety, and panic attacks, then so be it. If you know someone who is afflicted, please don’t make light of it and lose your patience. No one feels worse than we do when we are unable to do the things we want to do. And whatever you do, don’t ever tell us to “suck it up.”