An Awe-Inspiring Chain Reaction

It all starts with ONE.

Something incredible happened last week.

Tuesday morning I went to a local high school to present NAMI’s in-school mental health awareness program, “Ending the Silence.” You can read about that presentation here. When I got home that afternoon, my husband asked if I’d heard the big news about NBA All-Star Kevin Love having panic attacks.

I hadn’t, so I googled his name and was amazed at what I found. Kevin, who plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers, wrote a captivating, raw, and honest personal essay for The Players’ Tribune. It’s titled “Everyone Is Going Through Something.” He talked about something he admittedly doesn’t find easy to talk about — his feelings. And the panic symptoms that terrified him.

Kevin said he had a panic attack during a game on Nov. 5, 2017. His heart raced, he couldn’t catch his breath, and everything was spinning. He went to the locker room and ended up lying on his back, trying to breathe. He thought he might die.

Kevin was afraid people would find out. He didn’t want to talk about it.

He went to a therapist, something he never thought he’d do. Kevin said the biggest lesson for him was confronting the fact that he needed help.

In the NBA, you have

Kevin said one of the reasons he decided to write his story is because he was inspired by another NBA All-Star player, DeMar DeRozan, of the Toronto Raptors. In February, DeMar talked about his struggles with depression.

In the middle of the night on Feb. 17, 2018 DeMar tweeted: This depression gets the best of me… DeMar, who says he’s a quiet and private person, received an outpouring of support on social media.

We all got feelings...all of that. Sometimes...

DeMar was proud to have opened up so others could do the same. He said that the ripple effect of his interview about his depression has been one of the most incredible things he’s ever witnessed.

It’s a chain reaction. When one person speaks out, thousands of others are touched by it. There’s power in realizing you’re not the only one.

On Wednesday, the day after I found out about DeMar’s and Kevin’s issues with mental health, I watched the Today Show. There was a piece on Kevin and after it ran, the anchors praised him, saying how brave he was to tell his story.

Then something awesome happened.

Carson Daly, a Today Show anchor and host of The Voice, was sitting at that table with the other anchors. He said he could relate to Kevin, as he himself has had anxiety since childhood. He had his first panic attack years ago when he was a host at MTV.

I was surprised to hear this, as I’d never heard about Carson’s anxiety. I wondered if that was the first time he talked about it publicly. It was.

At times I feel like there's a saber-tooth tiger

The chain reaction was gaining strength. Each man inspired the next.

These three highly successful men are used to challenges. But this was something new. They aren’t used to talking about something so personal as their mental and emotional well-being. It takes courage and bravery to open up about an issue that can be very difficult to discuss.

That Wednesday afternoon, I presented three more “Ending the Silence” programs at the high school. There’s a part where I discuss celebrities and famous people with mental illness.

This time I added DeMar, Kevin, and Carson to my speech. I noticed the students’ faces light up. When I told the teens about Kevin’s panic attack during a basketball game, something changed with those kids — especially the boys. They leaned forward, wanting to know more. I knew I had captured their complete attention.

Those students sitting in my presentations that day learned that if their role models could have a mental health issue, anyone can. And they shouldn’t be ashamed or afraid to talk about it.

Maybe some of those high school kids are going through a difficult time and now have been inspired to tell someone and get help. I’ll never know — but that’s the thing. You don’t know who you’re going to reach. That’s why it’s important to keep the conversation going. We can’t stop.

End the silence.

Thank you DeMar, Kevin, and Carson. Because of your inspiring stories and courageous words, you’re helping countless others. The stigma barriers are beginning to break down. But there’s still a long way to go.

The chain reaction can’t stop here.

We all have something.

Second image courtesy of here

Third image courtesy of here

Fourth image courtesy of here

53 thoughts on “An Awe-Inspiring Chain Reaction

  1. Man, I ***love*** this. I had heard a snippet about Kevin but hadn’t gotten back to read it, and I’m so grateful you pulled the other stories in here and SO grateful you’re presenting for NAMI at schools and sharing these stories with the kids! What an awesome, awesome influence. Can you tell me how you came to be a presenter for NAMI? I would live to do something like that for my community!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for your wonderful comment!! I was truly inspired by these men and how they felt more comfortable speaking out because of the ones who did before them. That’s what is so incredible about speaking out about mental health/illness. You affect many others by talking about it. About NAMI…. I contacted my local NAMI office and asked for volunteer opportunities. When I heard about Ending the Silence, I knew right away that’s what I wanted to do. I went through training and then started presenting. I’d suggest to go to nami.org to find contact info for your closest NAMI office. Best of luck to you! xx

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am glad schools are starting to have guest speakers coming in to speak to kids about mental illness. I think it should start early, like grade school. The sooner kids recognize there is help, the easier it eill be to get the right kind of help. Thank you for this post.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh Wow! this is so awesome, I didn’t hear about it and I’m glad that you wrote this piece, it’s amazing. I’m thinking from now on I will share how I’m feeling with my children so that they will feel comfortable telling me how they are feeling, this is very important.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Pingback: An Awe-Inspiring Chain Reaction — Peace from Panic – Gritty Momma

  5. Reblogged this on dawn running strong and commented:
    Big hugs to JennieMarie for writing this beautiful and inspiring post. It was exactly what I needed to read today. Kudos to you for engaging in public speaking and connecting with youth at the schools. An extended family member…at the young and beautiful age of 19 committed suicide at the beginning of March. He was loved. And now he is missed. Telling my elementary aged kids was, to say the least, difficult. ❤️❤️ Thank you for your blog, Peace from Panic”, and for your timely post. 💗

    Liked by 2 people

  6. What an empowering enlightening post. It’s true, we don’t know what others are going through and yet all it takes is one bit of courageous admission for masks to fall and truths to follow, just as you saw here. Thanks for sharing this and always been so truthful and brave with us Jenny. 💙

    Liked by 1 person

  7. “You are not alone.” For me this has to be the first step in recovery from anxiety, depression, addiction…you name it. i think it is marvellous that well known athletes, members of Britain;s Royal Family and many others are speaking out, opening up the dialogue and coming forward to talk about their issues. It’s just wonderful. Thanks for this post.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: The Chain Reaction Continues: Meghan Trainor Opens Up About Her Mental Health | Peace from Panic

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