#VoicesOfTherapy: Ben Gordon – Don’t Worry; Go Seek Help
Former NBA player Ben Gordon’s wrote an essay in The Player’s Tribune about the impact of therapy.
Here are a few excerpts:
Right after my last year in the league, and I was living in a brownstone up in Harlem. I had lost my career, my identity, and my family all pretty much simultaneously. I was manic-depressive. I wasn’t eating. I wasn’t sleeping. And when I say I wasn’t sleeping, it was like a whole different level of insomnia. Every night, I’d wake up at the same time, like clockwork. And that’s when the demons would come out.
I started having panic attacks that were so intense they had a weight to them. You know what it felt like? It literally felt like this black cloak got thrown on top of me, and it was suffocating me. But not just physically. It was suffocating my soul.
How do you solve that shit by talking to someone? Ain’t no way, right?
You know what I mean? Typical black male. My problems are my problems. They’re nobody else’s business. I got this shit.
Part of the problem was that I didn’t even know that what I was experiencing had a name. I didn’t know I was having episodes.
I was compartmentalizing all my trauma and fear and pain like I was doing when I was in the NBA, but the difference is that now there’s no game. There’s no boundaries. There’s no goal. It’s like I took it so far that my body and my soul literally split off and doubled for real.
It was a slow, gradual thing that just got out of control because I didn’t know how to get help… I didn’t know what I was experiencing. I didn’t know that there was a name for it. I didn’t know that there were people who could actually help me.
I just thought I was trapped in this purgatory forever. I was looking for any escape from it, and that’s how I ended up in such a dark place that I was thinking about killing myself every single day.
I got arrested four times in five months. I was out of my mind. So the judge hit me with court-mandated therapy — 18 months.
At first, I thought it was useless. What’s some older white lady gonna know about what I’m going through? How’s she going to tell me anything? She can’t tell me NOTHING!
Well … she didn’t.
She barely said a word as a matter of fact.
But I got to sit in my chair and just talk my shit.
And you know what? It felt pretty good. I ended up doing an extra six months of therapy, all on my own. Not because I had to. But just because I thought, “You know what? I’m actually fucking with this!”
It helped me work some things out. But more than anything, I think it helped me embrace the fact that — it’s like, Yo, B, you’re different. And that’s alright. You don’t have to be perfect. Those habits that got you to the league? They don’t translate to real life.
The goal doesn’t have to be perfection. It can just be peace and acceptance with yourself.
I know for athletes especially, that might sound like some bullshit. That might sound soft. We’re trained to think that way. It’s almost like we’re brainwashed. But the whole reason I’m telling you my story is because I know — I know — there’s players out there who need help.
And to those players? I would just say, Don’t worry.
No, man, for real. Don’t even worry. Go seek some help. Find a therapist and sit in a chair and just talk your shit, brother.
Don’t worry about what anybody says. Don’t worry about how your boys react to it, or about what people got to say about it on social media.
I had a moment. I got help for that moment. I got to know myself from that moment. And I’m still working through some things, no doubt. There’s still some trauma I dealt with that I’m not ready to tell to the world about yet.
But for me, this is a start.
I hope it helps somebody out there. If you’re fucking with this story, don’t do what I did. Get some help.
Because you’re not crazy, dog.
You’re not damaged.
You’re just human like the rest of us.
Photo from Wikipedia Commons.
Could others benefit from hearing your story? You can anonymously share your experience at http://bit.ly/voicesoftherapy.