Several NBA stars have opened up about their bouts with depression in a laudable attempt to destigmatize mental illness. Most notably, Kevin Love and DeMar DeRozan published essays on their struggles last season, which prompted the NBA Players’ Association to hire its first director of mental health and wellness.
ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan is writing a five-part series on the topic, and the first one features extensive interviews with Love and DeRozan. It also features a conversation with Celtics great Paul Pierce, who talks about his battle with depression for the first time. Pierce says he started experiencing dark thoughts after he was stabbed at a nightclub in September 2000, suffering a collapsed lung. Though he recovered to play all 82 games, the mental pain took much longer to dissipate.
“I was stabbed 11 times. I felt like I was trapped in a box. I couldn’t go nowhere,” Pierce told MacMullan. “I battled depression for a year. The only thing that saved me was basketball.”
Pierce’s depression got so bad, he says he ordered a 24-hour-per-day police presence outside of his home in Lincoln. The Celtics suggested counseling, but Pierce wouldn’t take it, even when his anxiety in public spaces became debilitating. The 10-time All-Star says his anxiety peaked one night at a Morton’s Steakhouse, when an unidentified man on the phone told Pierce he was going to kill him.
“So now I’m really paranoid,” Pierce said. “I don’t want to go anywhere. The police sat in the front of my house for months. I was a mess.
“I think that’s the reason I got back on the court so fast. Me sitting at home thinking about [the stabbing] didn’t work. I went to every practice, sat on the sideline for hours, because that’s where I felt safe. I didn’t want those practices to end because then I had to go back out there in this world that really scared me.”
Pierce averaged 25.3 points and 6.4 rebounds during the 2000-01 campaign, but says his mind still wasn’t right. When reflecting on the episode, Pierce says he wishes he went for help.
“I should have opened up earlier than I did,” Pierce said. “It was eating me alive. Once I finally started talking to a family member, it helped me.”
That’s an important message. Mental illness is nothing to shy away from, and the more people like Pierce open up about their battles, the less stigmatized it will become.
Full article @ Paul Pierce opens up about bout with depression after nightclub stabbing
Source: GreenStreet Blog