March Madness. Basketball. Sweet Sixteen. Final Four. It’s that time of year when college basketball rules ESPN and prime time TV. Brackets are posted. Cinderella teams emerge. Highly ranked teams are upset. The frenzy of excitement spills over into the beginning of April, and a team of 19-23-year-old young men triumph as the NCAA Division 1 Basketball Champions.
Kevin Love is familiar with March Madness. A stand-out freshmen center for UCLA, he played in the Final Four match of the 2007-2008 season. He is a five-time NBA All-Star and won an NBA championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016. He was also a member of the gold medal-winning USA men’s national team at the 2010 FIBA World Championship and the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Love has accomplished amazing endeavors, but on March 6th, Love published an article revealing “the most important thing” he had ever done: share about his struggle with mental health issues in the form of panic attacks. Love specifically challenges men and boys struggling with emotional turmoil to be willing to admit they could use some help. American culture dictates that men should be tough, strong, and successful. Admitting to mental health issues may cause some men to feel weak, worthless, and pathetic. Love noted that the biggest lesson he learned from the panic attack that forced him to leave a game on November 5th was confronting the fact that he needed help.
A variety of symptoms are related to mental health struggles. Some may be emotional, such as angry outbursts, irritability, aggressiveness, sadness, hopelessness, confusion. Some may be physical, such as change in energy level or appetite, difficulty sleeping, sleeping too much, headaches, chest pain, and digestive issues. Men are often reluctant to seek help when symptoms arise, fighting the ingrained concept: “be a man.”
Perhaps the most courageous thing to do is seek help, like Love did. Deep breathing could be a place to start. Deep breathing sounds so simple, but it can release the emotional pressure and allow calmness to permeate the body and mind. Talk to a trusted family member or friend. Talk to a professional. Love stated that talking to a therapist allowed him to realize “we’re all carrying around things that hurt – and
they can hurt us if we keep them buried inside. Not talking about our inner lives robs us of really getting to know ourselves and robs us of the chance to reach out to others in need.”
Let March Madness be your call to seek care for yourself.