Many of you already know that my first love was basketball. I began playing when I was 8 and played all the way through college. Basketball was my outlet, my release and when the world was spinning out of control, I would find my way to the basketball hoop outside my house and shoot way into the night.
When I was put on Varsity as a freshman in high school, I began feeling anxiety on the court for the first time. I grew up in a basketball town where there were so many people at our games, they would have to fire a gun at the end of the half because the sound of the crowd was louder than the buzzer. There was standing room only at games and there I was, a freshman, trying to handle the pressure.
At first, I thought it was a fluke. When the ball was tipped, I felt my mouth go completely dry. I kept trying to moisten my mouth but literally there wasn’t a drop of moisture. I now know this is called “cottonmouth” and is a symptom of an anxiety attack. My head felt swimmy. I couldn’t remember the plays. I didn’t know where I was on the court. I somehow made it through those first few minutes of the game and through the rest of the year. Alone. Without telling anyone.
I had always been a tough kid and I thought I wasn’t supposed to feel afraid. I wasn’t supposed to have these feelings. No one around me was having them, or so I thought.
In recent years, mental health has been talked about more and more in sports. When this recent video came out by Kevin Love, I had to share. I wish I had heard it when I was in high school. It might have changed things for me. I might have reached out to someone about it. I might have gotten the help I needed. It is my hope that this video will help people all over the country do just that – get the help they need.
And…I’m including a present day picture of me shooting. Yes, I still shoot baskets before work. I just can’t seem to let go of the game.
Kevin Love video: http://www.espn.com/video/clip?id=24420318