From celebrities to politicians, mental health remains misunderstood and discussed by few, but Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love opened up about his battle with mental health while reflecting on the moment he defined as a wakeup call.
In a letter to The Players' Tribune, Love talked about the personal news that not even his close friends or family knew about.
He remembers the moment like it was yesterday. On Nov. 5, the Cavs were playing the Atlanta Hawks. It was just after halftime and something strange happened.
"I had a panic attack," Love said.
Love, who recently turned 29 in September, said he's always been a private person, particularly when it comes to revealing his feelings.
"Sure, I knew on some level that some people benefited from asking for help or opening up. I just never thought it was for me. To me, it was a form of weakness that could derail my success in sports or make me seem weird or different," Love explained.
Fellow teammate LeBron James showed his support for Love on Twitter.
— LeBron James (@KingJames) March 6, 2018
Love recalls how he was winded within the first few possessions. He said he felt strange. At halftime, things got real for Love who recalls how his mouth was 'like chalk' and the air felt 'thick and heavy.'
When it was time to get up, he physically couldn't. Moments later, Love ran to the locker room where he was running from room to room.
"It was like my body was trying to say to me, 'You're about to die,' Love said. He was taken to the Cleveland Clinic and left the hospital with all the previous events being a blur.
Two days later the Cavs played the Bucks, Love said everything seemed to be normal. He was scoring and the team won.
But one question never left his head.
"Why was I so concerned with people finding out?" he said. That moment was a wake-up call for Love.
Skepticism lingering in his mind, Love went to his first therapy appointment. He said the experience was refreshing.
"I think it's easy to assume we know ourselves, but once you peel back the layers it's amazing how much there is still to discover."
Love ended his candid discussion on The Players' Tribune about mental health by reiterating that mental health is an invisible thing.
"Everyone is going through something that we can't see."
Michael Baskin is the executive director of NAMI, the National Alliance for Mental Illness. He said Love's letter sparks a conversation -- and helps remove some of the stigma.
"The more people are open about it, as Kevin Love was, the more likely there is a chance that somebody can be helped by his story," Baskin said.
Kari Kepic has suffered from panic attacks since she was a teenager, describing the breathless feeling that comes with them.
"It’s like pressure in the chest, it’s like having a heart attack, it’s like sweating to death," Kepic said. She is grateful Love shared his story, especially because he is such a role model.
"Kids will see this and be able to admit maybe they're having some of these issues. Other adults, too," Kepic said. "These illnesses and these attacks don’t just affect the common little person. They affect everyone."