Coco Loco the New Drug

Coco Loco the New Drug

Coco Loco is the new way teenagers have found to get a high. This product recently entered the United States. It is not being marketed as a drug so the FDA has no authority over it. Teens assume it is safe because it is chocolate and natural.

Since this substance is so new, I have included a link that you can look at so you are more familiar with this substance. https://youtu.be/MV6QIsqA_f4

While chocolate is one ingredient it also includes ingredients common in energy drinks so the person feels a burst of energy. What is the problem? Since this is not regulated, there is no way to determine the amount of caffeine or other substances used to increase your heart rate are in it. Therefore, if a teen has been drinking a number of energy drinks and then snorts Coco Loco, they won’t know if they have had too much until it is too late.

Increasing your heart rate can be dangerous. Most people who do cardio exercises take their heart rate to make sure their heart rate is in a safe zone and not too fast. When a person’s heart rate is too fast, they can have a heart attack or a stroke just to mention some of the physical dangers. Also if a person ingest too much caffeine they can cause themselves to have a psychotic episode.

The problem with Coco Loco is since it is marketed as “natural” it does not have to comply with the labeling or health codes that substances considered as medical have to follow. If you go to a store such as GNC that tends to sell products to help lose weight or improve your energy level, you will find many of the items do not list ingredients or health warnings. By law they do not have to.

So the problem is that many teenagers may assume this product is totally safe when it is not. The problem is that they may discover this when their hear is beating 200 beats a minute and their health is at risk or they have had too much caffeine and find themselves waking up in the psychiatric ward of a hospital because they had a psychotic episode.

So parents, take a few minutes and discuss Coco Loco with your teenagers. In fact, discuss it with any of your children who are going to school. There is no age restriction on who can buy it and children may not hesitate to try it because it is chocolate. Explain the difference and the risks so they can make a good choice.

Dr. Michael Rubino has over 20 years working as a psychotherapist treating children and teenagers. For more information regarding Dr. Rubino’s work or private practice visit his website at www.RubinoCounseling.com.

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Educating Children about Guns and Violence

Educating Children about Guns and Violence

Parents it’s sad to say but in today’s world toys can result in a child being killed. We would like to assume we still live in a world that is safe for our kids, where they can go outside to play and we know they will be safe. However, this is no longer the truth. The world has changed and kids are no longer just safe to go out and play.

One major change is the increase in violence in our society. Since the year 2000 there have been 160 mass shootings and they are increasing every year (ABC News). Because of this law enforcement and people in general are more sensitive to guns and violence.

The problem for our children is a number of toy manufactures are making toy guns that look real. There is a man selling toy assault weapons on the Internet and he has a waiting list for people wanting to buy these “toys” for their kids. We need to think about the toys kids are playing with before they go out to play. If they are outside or at school playing with a “toy gun” that looks real they may end up getting killed. Kids video games have become violent and many involve shooting and killing. If a police officer tells a child to drop their gun, they may think it is a game or that the officer knows it is a toy and ignore the officer and the officer may shoot because of the risk to him and others that may be around. What happens, the child gets killed because they thought they were playing a game. In fact, one child is killed by a gun every 30 minutes in the US (CDC). This rate is higher than the Middle East.

Video games and movies have become also become very violent. In the 1990’s a movie received an R rating for swearing. Now those movies are PG. Movies that receive R ratings today are very graphic violently and sexually. Many kids believe these movies represent daily normal life. The children I work with are now only interested in watching movies and playing video games that are graphically violent with people getting killed. Remember children don’t reason like adults. They can hit the reset button on a game and start over and everyone is a live. Therefore, many children and teens do not think they will be killed because the typical belief most children have about life are that children are not killed, adults are killed.

In addition to movies and games becoming violent children today are being exposed to mass shootings all most daily. As a result, children are accepting violence as an everyday fact of life. I do an anger management group for teens and when the topic of caring knifes or guns came up, most of the teens thought it was a good idea. When I asked about being killed accidentally, they didn’t care. Many of them felt there already was a chance they could be shot or stabbed by someone, therefore, they should at least be able to defend themselves. This is a sad way for children to be growing up.

Teens are also seeing that guns can be an answer to some of their problems. We have seen news stories where teens have planned and murdered another kid because they did not like the other child. The recent shooting at the game arcade in Florida occurred because a teen was mad that someone beat him at a video game. For teens 10 to 24 suicide is the third leading cause of death and using a gun to commit suicide is one of the top three choices (CDC). Therefore, guns pose a major health hazard to children and teenagers.

What does this mean to parents? It means when you are buying games, Holiday gifts or birthday gifts that parents need to think. It is important to pay attention to the rating and the age of your child. If you buy the video games rated mature which can deal with killing or raping, do you want your child exposed to these issues? Do not allow them to play with realistic toy guns without appropriate education especially teaching them never to point it at someone. A police officer may not have the time to determine if your teen has a toy gun or real gun. Furthermore, monitor the movies they watch. Do not allow them to watch movies or television shows that glorify violence. Remember their brains are not totally mature yet, so they need their parents to think for them when it comes to violence.

When the US in ranked number one in kids being killed by guns and are children assume they have a good chance of being killed by a gun, and kids think a video game or movie is good only if there is killing, parents must act. Parents must try to re-educate our children. It’s not too late.

Dr Michael Rubino specializes in treating children and adolescents. He has 20 years experience working with teenagers. For more information about his work or private practice visit his website at www.rubinocounseling.com or his Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/drrubino3.

Bullying is becoming Worse, When Do We Stop It?

Bullying is becoming Worse, When Do We Stop It?

The problem of children being bullied at school and online is getting worse not better. There are a number of school programs designed to decrease bullying but unfortunately they do not seem to be making the impact we hoped they were making with children. There are two incidents which occurred recently which makes me feel this way.

One technique we teach children is not to be passive and get involved. In other words, if they see another student being bullied to tell a teacher, provide emotional support to the child who is being bullied or to stand up to the other children and request that they stop. Well a six year old boy did this for a friend. He saw a friend being bullied and he told the other children to stop. The children turned on him and now he probably will need surgery for a broken arm. I have included the video so you can see what happened to this brave boy. Please watch this video

https://www.cnn.com/videos/us/2018/08/28/6-year-old-attacked-bullies-carter-english-sot-es-vpx.cnn.

Another example is a nine year old boy who came out to family and friends over the summer that he was gay. The teasing and bullying he received from the other boys was so intense he recently committed suicide. Imagine the bullying that a 9 year old was having to endure was so intense that he decided he would be better off dead. He had a supportive family, but that was not enough to eliminate the trauma he experienced from the boys who were bullying him.

As adults we need to step in and do something to stop this bullying epidemic. We are telling children to speak up and we are trying anti-bullying programs and they are helping somewhat but not enough. We have to look at what our children are seeing in our Country. We have a President who uses Twitter to bully people and he calls people names in his speeches such as saying Representative Maxine Walters has a very low IQ. The response is well that is how he acts. If he can use that excuse why can’t children. The children and teenagers I see for psychotherapy are using the President’s behavior as an excuse.

However, look at the price children are paying. Bullying and cyber bullying are at epidemic levels. It is also not uncommon for children to be physically hurt or commit suicide when they are being bullied. We have become so accustomed to these suicides and kids being hurt physically that the two stories I provided a link to barely made the news and were accepted as the new norm. This is very sad if we will allow this to be the new norm for children.

Additionally, we know that children who are bullied are more likely to have mental health problems as adults and more likely to commit suicide as adults. So the problem does not end as these children grow up, it follows them their entire lives. I have seen this in my office. I have students in college or seniors in high school who are in therapy for bullying that occurred in the first grade.

I am not sure what the answer is to this problem. However, if we accept this as the new norm it will never change. If we allow people like the President to call people names on Twitter and in public and accept it, the problem will never end. How can you tell a child not to bully someone when the President does it daily and children are aware of his behavior. They use his behavior as an excuse all the time, when I am discussing their poor behavior.

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist with over 20 years experience specializing in treating children and teenagers. For more information about Dr. Rubino’s work or private practice visit his website www.RubinoCounseling.com or his Facebook page www.Facebook.com/drrubino3.

Helping ADHD Children Prepare for the Beginning of School

Helping ADHD Children Prepare for the Beginning of School

As a psychotherapist who work with children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), I have heard how happy they are during summer or on school holidays. They feel they can relax and enjoy life. There is no worry about homework or having to follow directions at school. Also at home life is much easier. Their parents are not telling them they need to do homework and there are less arguments at home. I have heard parents tell me the same story. Parents who have children with ADHD find summer to be less stressful and they find the school year to be a series of struggles and arguments over school.

While this is the common experience, it does not have to be. If parents and the child with ADHD discuss the school before it starts or at least before the child has homework on a regular basis, the school year can be less stressful. Dr. Robert Meyer wrote an article where he also suggests if the family with an ADHD child develops a game plan regarding how they will handle school, the school year does not have to be so stressful. This is the same approach I suggest and use with the children I work with who have ADHD. Therefore, I will list the steps parents can take to develop a game plan with their child and therefore reduce the stress associated with the school year.

1. Set Goals for the Year

Setting some reasonable goals for the school year sets the tone and gives clear expectations that can lead to a successful academic year. Goals could revolve around completing assignments and turning them in, getting ready for school on time, good reports on behavior at school, and getting to bed on time. Each family will have their own views on what is important; meet as a family to work these out. It works well when all children in the family have their own unique list of goals. You might also have a goal related to all of the children being able to get along without fighting.

Rewards

Goals are great, but motivation for achieving goals is enhanced by the anticipation of rewards. Reward and celebrate meeting goals. Remember that rewards can come in all forms. Staying up late on the weekend could be a reward for going to bed on time. Extra time for media use (video game, iPod, computer, TV, etc) could be a reward for getting homework done well and on time. Whichever child is ready for school first could earn “shot gun” in the car on the way to school if you’re driving. Be creative.

Think about a special outing or some other reward for a good report card each quarter. Start with average marks. If that is reached, look for slight improvement from one marking period to the next. The key is making sure the goal is reasonable and obtainable.

Praise and Encouragement

In addition to rewards, provide praise and encouragement. Teach your child how to feel good about achievement on his or her own. When success is not achieved, be their coach and teach or re–teach strategies and behaviors that can increase the likelihood of success. It’s been shown in studies that ADD and ADHD kids respond much better to positive reinforcement than to criticism, so try to play to their strengths and catch them being good and remark on it whenever possible.

2. Agree on Morning and Afternoon Routines

Getting the day off to a good start can set the tone for the day for the whole family. At a family meeting, discuss when everyone needs to be out the door. List all the things that need to take place to make this happen, then figure out how much time each task will take. From there, determine a schedule and what time each person needs to get out of bed. Once you have a plan, give it a dry run to see if it is workable. You could use a stopwatch to see if the goal can be met. Make any necessary adjustments and then post the schedule so everyone can see it. Consider a once–a–week family activity to celebrate if you are successful for a week. (If you are successful for a few weeks, you could space out the celebrations to once a month.)

Other things to consider might include selecting clothes for the next day before going to bed, making sure everything is in each kid’s backpack and putting the backpacks right by the door.

Afternoons can include after–school activities, chores, homework, play time, computer time, reading, evening meal and getting ready for bed. While mornings are usually the same from day–to–day, you may have to make a schedule that varies for each day of the week. Again, get input from the family and revise as needed.

Family mealtime has been found to very beneficial to all members of the family. Try to schedule the evening meal so everyone can sit around the table (no TV) and interact with each other. Start using the “roses and thorns” approach to encourage interaction. Each family member shares one positive experience (rose) and one not so positive experience (thorn) when it is their “turn” to share.

3. Meet with Your Child’s Teacher

Make arrangements to meet with your child’s teacher as soon as possible. If your child has an IEP or a 504 plan then you can meet to discuss how you can best work with the teacher to implement the plan in their classroom. If the school is not aware of your child’s ADD or ADHD, just meet as an interested parent first.

During the meeting, find out about any major projects or other assignments that are coming up during the year. Learn about the teacher’s expectation for homework. Find out how you can communicate with the teacher to keep track of completed and outstanding assignments. Showing that you are interested and want to play an active, supportive role can form a relationship that can help keep your child on track and make it easier to work out problems if the need arises.

4. Set up a Study Schedule

Once you know what to expect for homework, you can work with your child to establish a homework routine that works for all concerned. Decide if your child will have free time before homework. Agree to the time homework should begin and a schedule for completing daily or weekly assignments for each subject as well as a plan to complete any larger projects. If your child has a lot of homework, you may want to schedule some brief breaks in between subjects.

Decide how you will be involved as far as checking for accuracy and completeness. Develop a system that works for you for keeping track of assignments and their completion. Some parents use a notebook or have a chart where they check off each assignment. Also, develop a system to help your child remember to turn in the completed assignments. It’s not unusual for ADHD kids to complete assignments and then forget to turn them in.

5. Schedule Daily “Fun Time” with Your Child

I know that parents are very busy and spend a lot of time helping and taking care of their children in addition to working and running a household. I know that some days you may feel depleted and/or defeated. From time to time your child most likely feels the same way.

In my 30 years of practice as a child psychologist, I have always recommended that parents take a few minutes out of the day (10–20) to make time to do something fun with their children. Find out what your child likes as well as suggest new things they might come to enjoy as well. Playing a short game, making something together, reading a story, going for a walk, tossing a ball or Frisbee in the backyard or at the park—and anything else that works for you and your child and family—will strengthen the bond. When your children are close in age, spending time  together is great, but from time–to–time also make time for one–to–one as well.

Confront Your Fears

The start of the school year doesn’t have to be a time of dread. Anxiety is our reaction to fear. In this case there is the fear of the unknown (How will things go?) as well as a fear of the past (Will there be a repeat of previous school year experiences?). The best way to handle anxiety is to confront the fearful situation and develop a plan to handle it in a way that will result in a positive outcome. Then stick to the plan, revising only when necessary.

Take One Day at a Time

Finally, take one day at a time. Take time for yourself to relax during the day and appreciate the small, good moments whenever possible. This recharges your battery and restarts your brain—and helps you find renewed joy in your child, in being a parent and in life in general.

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist with over 20 years experience treating children and teenagers. If you would like more information about Dr. Rubino’s work or private practice visit his website www.RubinoCounseling.com or his Facebook page www.Facebook.com/drrubino3.

Teaching Teenagers to be Respectful

Teaching Teenagers to be Respectful

As a psychotherapist who works with teenagers, the question about getting teens to act respectful is a common question. Parents would like more respect, however, they are also very concerned how their teenager will treat teachers and other adults. Given today’s climate, where teenagers see the President acting disrespectfully to people daily on the news and Twitter with no consequences, the issue of respect has become more of a concern for parents. It is more of a concern because many teens feel they do not have to be respectful if adults are not acting respectfully. I have had teens tell me this and I agree that some adults are acting very disrespectful, but that does not give them permission to be disrespectful.

When parents ask me about respect, I tell them to start setting rules regarding respectful behavior with their children as soon as they are born. The earlier you start the more likely your teenager will act respectfully to others. I also remind parents that they must follow the guidelines they are setting for their children. Parents are role models and if you are not acting respectfully and consistently, your teenager will not respect your authority.

James Lehman, MSW approaches respect the same way that I approach it. I saw how he broke down the issues involved with teenagers being respectful so the topic is easier to understand and I am going to do the same thing.

1. Remember, Your Child Is Not Your Friend

It’s not about your child liking you or even thanking you for what you do. It’s important to remember that your child is not your friend—he’s your child. Your job is to coach him to be able to function in the world. This means teaching him to behave respectfully to others, not just you. When you think your child might be crossing the line, a good rule of thumb is to ask yourself, “Would I let the neighbor say these things to me? Would I let a stranger?” If the answer is no, don’t let your child do it, either. Someday when your child becomes an adult, your relationship may become more of a friendship, but for now, it’s your job to be his parent: his teacher, coach and limit setter—not the buddy who lets him get away with things.

2. Catch Disrespect Early and Plan Ahead If You Can

It’s good to catch disrespectful behavior early if possible. If your child is rude or disrespectful, don’t turn a blind eye. Intervene and say, “We don’t talk to each other that way in this family.” Giving consequences when your kids are younger is going to pay off in the long run. It’s really important as a parent if you see your child being disrespectful to admit it and then try to nip it in the bud. Also, if your child is about to enter the teen years (or another potentially difficult phase) think about the future. Some parents I know are already planning how they will address behavior as their ADD daughter (who is now 11) becomes a teenager. They’re learning skills to prepare for their interactions with her at a later time. This can only help them as they move forward together as a family.

3. Get in Alignment with Your Mate

It’s so important for you and your mate to be on the same page when it comes to your child’s behavior. Make sure one of you isn’t allowing the disrespectful behavior while the other is trying to intercede. Sit down together and talk about what your bottom lines are, and then come up with a plan of action—and a list of consequences you might give—if your child breaks the rules.

4. Teach Your Child Basic Social Interaction Skills

It may sound old fashioned, but it’s very important to teach your child basic manners like saying “please” and “thank you.” When your child deals with her teachers in school or gets her first job and has these skills to fall back on, it will really go a long way. Understand that using manners—just a simple “excuse me” or “thank you”—is also a form of empathy. It teaches your kids to respect others and acknowledge their impact on other people. When you think about it, disrespectful behavior is the opposite, negative side of being empathetic and having good manners.

5. Be Respectful When You Correct Your Child

When your child is being disrespectful, you as a parent need to correct them in a respectful manner. Yelling and getting upset and having your own attitude in response to theirs is not helpful and often only escalates behavior. The truth is, if you allow their disrespectful behavior to affect you, it’s difficult to be an effective teacher in that moment. You can pull your child aside and give them a clear message, for example. You don’t need to shout at them or embarrass them. One of our friends was excellent at this particular parenting skill. He would pull his kids aside, say something quietly (I usually had no idea what it was), and it usually changed their behavior immediately. Use these incidents as teachable moments by pulling your kids aside calmly, making your expectations firm and clear, and following through with consequences if necessary.

6. Try to Set Realistic Expectations for Your Kids Around Their Behavior

This may actually mean that you need to lower your expectations. Don’t plan a huge road trip with your kids, for example, if they don’t like to ride in the car. If your child has trouble in large groups and you plan an event for 30 people, you’re likely to set everyone up for disappointment and probably an argument!

If you are setting realistic expectations and you still think there might be some acting-out behaviors that crop up, set limits beforehand. For example, if you’re going to go out to dinner, be clear with your kids about what you expect of them. This will not only help the behavior but in some ways will help them feel safer. They will understand what is expected of them and will know what the consequences will be if they don’t meet those expectations. If they meet your goals, certainly give them credit, but also if they don’t, follow through on whatever consequences you’ve set up for them.

7. Clarify the Limits When Things Are Calm

When you’re in a situation where your child is disrespectful, that’s not the ideal time to do a lot of talking about limits or consequences. At a later time, you can talk with your child about his behavior and what your expectations are.

8. Talk About What Happened Afterward

If your child is disrespectful or rude, talk about what happened (later, when things are calm) and how it could have been dealt with differently. That’s a chance for you, as a parent, to listen to your child and hear what was going on with her when that behavior happened. Try to stay objective. You can say, “Pretend a video camera recorded the whole thing. What would I see?” This is also a perfect time to have your child describe what she could have done differently.

9. Don’t Take It Personally

One of the biggest mistakes parents can make is to take their child’s behavior personally. The truth is, you should never fall into that trap because the teenager next door is doing the same thing to his parents, and your cousin’s daughter is doing the same thing to her parents. Your role is to just deal with your child’s behavior as objectively as possible.

When parents don’t have effective ways to deal with these kinds of things, they may feel out of control and get scared—and often overreact or under react to the situation. When they overreact, they become too rigid, and when they under react, they ignore the behavior or tell themselves it’s “just a phase.” Either way, it won’t help your child learn to manage his thoughts or emotions more effectively, and it won’t teach him to be more respectful.

Understand that if you haven’t been able to intervene early with your kids, you can start at any time. Even if your child is constantly exhibiting disrespectful behavior, you can begin stepping in and setting those clear limits. Kids really do want limits, even if they protest loudly—and they will. The message that they get when you step in and set limits is that they’re cared about, they’re loved and that you really want them to be successful and able to function well in the world. Many teenagers complain that their parents do not set rules for them and they are upset. Besides making them feel loved, your rules help them make the right choices for themselves when they are facing issues such as drugs. Our kids won’t thank us now, but that’s okay—it’s not about getting them to thank us, it’s about doing the right thing. Hopefully, you find these suggestions helpful. If you want me to explain more or if you have concerns regarding a different topic, please leave a comment.

Dr. Michael Rubino has over 20 years experience as a psychotherapist treating children and teenagers. For more information regarding his work or private practice visit his website www.RubinoCounseling.com or Facebook page www.Facebook.com/drrubino3.

Helping College Students with Disability Issues Find Help

Helping College Students with Disability Issues Find Help

Working with children and adolescents I have had many parents ask about 504 plans and Individual Educational Plans (IEP). Parents tend to focus on the assistance their child may need in elementary or high school due to a learning disability or mental health issues. From my 20 years experience as a psychotherapist, what I have seen is that if a child need assistance in elementary and high school, they typically need assistance in college.

From my experience, most families assume there is no assistance in college. However, typically if a child has an IEP, they are also entitled to assistance in college. Most colleges in their Counseling departments have programs designed to help disabled students. A student with a physical or learning disability or mental health issue such as ADHD or depression would qualify for assistance by the Disabled Students Program at a college.

Also if you live in California and you have a physical or learning disability or a mental health issue and had an IEP while in school, you may qualify to be a client of the California Department of Rehabilitation. This Department is responsible for assisting people in California ,with a disability, find a job and get the education they may need to find a job. The Department may assist their clients by providing tuition assistance for community or state colleges and provide financial assistance to buy text books and school supplies. What they are able to do depends on the State budget.

This is another reason for parents to insist when their child does need an IEP that the school district places the child on an IEP. The lies schools tell parents that an IEP will prevent their child from getting into a college, the military or getting a job is not true. Another reason to insist on the IEP, if your child qualifies for an IEP, is because your child can be granted accommodations on the SAT or ACT that students need to take when they apply for college. I have had many teens with ADHD come to me seeking accommodations on the SAT or ACT. A common requirement that the testing boards require is that a student needs to have had an IEP if they are seeking accommodations on these tests.

Therefore, many students who have disabilities or mental health issues can receive assistance in college. While many people may be surprised, it is true. However, for many college students finding the assistance can be confusing and overwhelming. For a Freshman in college dealing with heath or mental health issues the confusion and embarrassment people deal with because of society stereotypes can cause students to give up. However, I was contacted by bettercollege.com with a resource guide they developed for college students with mental health issues. While their guide was created for students with mental health issues, it can also be used as a guide for students with physical or learning disabilities.

Since I feel this is a valuable guide to Freshman students and their families, I am including a link to this resource guide below:

Guide to College Planning for Psychiatrically Impaired Students – https://www.bestcolleges.com/resources/college-planning-with-psychiatric-disabilities/

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist with over 20 years experience working with children, teenagers and college students. For more information about Dr. Rubino’s work and private practice visit one of his web sites www.RubinoCounseling.com or www.rcs-ca.com or his Facebook page www.Facebook.com/drrubino3.

Panic Attacks and School

Panic Attacks and School

In our society people do not discuss mental health and it is something people feel embarrassed about. They also feel shame if they have mental health issues or if they go to a psychotherapist. However, school and college are starting very soon and school can trigger emotional issues for many adolescents.

While we have this negative stigma about mental health, teenagers worry about it a great deal. Especially since 1 out of 5 teenagers deal with mental health issue. As a psychotherapist who treats teenagers, I see a large number of teens for panic attacks especially boys. I believe teenage boys are more prone to anxiety attacks because of the stereotype that boys don’t cry and they see emotions as weak. However, in our society men do cry and have emotional problems. Emotions are not a sign of weakness for men and boys. The documentary, “The Mask You Live In,” address this issue that men and boys face. I recently read an article by the basketball player, Kevin Love, which addresses this issue and explains how it impacts men and boys. I have included what he wrote so you can understand what men and boys face in our society.

On November 5th, right after halftime against the Hawks, I had a panic attack.

It came out of nowhere. I’d never had one before. I didn’t even know if they were real. But it was real — as real as a broken hand or a sprained ankle. Since that day, almost everything about the way I think about my mental health has changed.

“I DID ONE SEEMINGLY LITTLE THING THAT TURNED OUT TO BE A BIG THING.”

Kevin Love discusses his decision to seek help after suffering from a panic attack. (0:54)

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I’ve never been comfortable sharing much about myself. I turned 29 in September and for pretty much 29 years of my life I have been protective about anything and everything in my inner life. I was comfortable talking about basketball — but that came natural. It was much harder to share personal stuff, and looking back now I know I could have really benefited from having someone to talk to over the years. But I didn’t share — not to my family, not to my best friends, not in public. Today, I’ve realized I need to change that. I want to share some of my thoughts about my panic attack and what’s happened since. If you’re suffering silently like I was, then you know how it can feel like nobody really gets it. Partly, I want to do it for me, but mostly, I want to do it because people don’t talk about mental health enough. And men and boys are probably the farthest behind.

I know it from experience. Growing up, you figure out really quickly how a boy is supposed to act. You learn what it takes to “be a man.” It’s like a playbook: Be strong. Don’t talk about your feelings. Get through it on your own. So for 29 years of my life, I followed that playbook. And look, I’m probably not telling you anything new here. These values about men and toughness are so ordinary that they’re everywhere … and invisible at the same time, surrounding us like air or water. They’re a lot like depression or anxiety in that way.

So for 29 years, I thought about mental health as someone else’s problem. 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 form of weakness that could derail my success in sports or make me seem weird or different.

PHOTO BY CHRISTIAN PETERSEN/GETTY IMAGES

Then came the panic attack.

It happened during a game.

It was November 5th, two months and three days after I turned 29. We were at home against the Hawks — 10th game of the season. A perfect storm of things was about to collide. I was stressed about issues I’d been having with my family. I wasn’t sleeping well. On the court, I think the expectations for the season, combined with our 4–5 start, were weighing on me.

I knew something was wrong almost right after tip-off.

I was winded within the first few possessions. That was strange. And my game was just off. I played 15 minutes of the first half and made one basket and two free throws.

After halftime, it all hit the fan. Coach Lue called a timeout in the third quarter. When I got to the bench, I felt my heart racing faster than usual. Then I was having trouble catching my breath. It’s hard to describe, but everything was spinning, like my brain was trying to climb out of my head. The air felt thick and heavy. My mouth was like chalk. I remember our assistant coach yelling something about a defensive set. I nodded, but I didn’t hear much of what he said. By that point, I was freaking out. When I got up to walk out of the huddle, I knew I couldn’t reenter the game — like, literally couldn’t do it physically.

Coach Lue came up to me. I think he could sense something was wrong. I blurted something like, “I’ll be right back,” and I ran back to the locker room. I was running from room to room, like I was looking for something I couldn’t find. Really I was just hoping my heart would stop racing. It was like my body was trying to say to me, You’re about to die. I ended up on the floor in the training room, lying on my back, trying to get enough air to breathe.

The next part was a blur. Someone from the Cavs accompanied me to the Cleveland Clinic. They ran a bunch of tests. Everything seemed to check out, which was a relief. But I remember leaving the hospital thinking, Wait … then what the hell just happened?

PHOTO BY JED JACOBSOHN/THE PLAYERS’ TRIBUNE

I was back for our next game against the Bucks two days later. We won, and I had 32. I remember how relieved I was to be back on the court and feeling more like myself. But I distinctly remember being more relieved than anything that nobody had found out why I had left the game against Atlanta. A few people in the organization knew, sure, but most people didn’t and no one had written about it.

A few more days passed. Things were going great on the court, but something was weighing on me.

Why was I so concerned with people finding out?

It was a wake-up call, that moment. I’d thought the hardest part was over after I had the panic attack. It was the opposite. Now I was left wondering why it happened — and why I didn’t want to talk about it.

Call it a stigma or call it fear or insecurity — you can call it a number of things — but what I was worried about wasn’t just my own inner struggles but how difficult it was to talk about them. I didn’t want people to perceive me as somehow less reliable as a teammate, and it all went back to the playbook I’d learned growing up.

This was new territory for me, and it was pretty confusing. But I was certain about one thing: I couldn’t bury what had happened and try to move forward. As much as part of me wanted to, I couldn’t allow myself to dismiss the panic attack and everything underneath it. I didn’t want to have to deal with everything sometime in the future, when it might be worse. I knew that much.

So I did one seemingly little thing that turned out to be a big thing. The Cavs helped me find a therapist, and I set up an appointment. I gotta stop right here and just say: I’m the last person who’d have thought I’d be seeing a therapist. I remember when I was two or three years into the league, a friend asked me why NBA players didn’t see therapists. I scoffed at the idea. No way any of us is gonna talk to someone. I was 20 or 21 years old, and I’d grown up around basketball. And on basketball teams? Nobody talked about what they were struggling with on the inside. I remember thinking, What are my problems? I’m healthy. I play basketball for a living. What do I have to worry about? I’d never heard of any pro athlete talking about mental health, and I didn’t want to be the only one. I didn’t want to look weak. Honestly, I just didn’t think I needed it. It’s like the playbook said — figure it out on your own, like everyone else around me always had.

PHOTO BY JEFF HAYNES/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES

But it’s kind of strange when you think about it. In the NBA, you have trained professionals to fine-tune your life in so many areas. Coaches, trainers and nutritionists have had a presence in my life for years. But none of those people could help me in the way I needed when I was lying on the floor struggling to breathe.

Still, I went to my first appointment with the therapist with some skepticism. I had one foot out the door. But he surprised me. For one thing, basketball wasn’t the main focus. He had a sense that the NBA wasn’t the main reason I was there that day, which turned out to be refreshing. Instead, we talked about a range of non-basketball things, and I realized how many issues come from places that you may not realize until you really look into them. I think it’s easy to assume we know ourselves, but once you peel back the layers it’s amazing how much there is to still discover.

A message from Kevin Love’s Grandma

“HAPPY BIRTHDAY, KEVIN.”

Kevin’s grandmother records a greeting for his 25th birthday in 2013. (0:33)

Since then, we’ve met up whenever I was back in town, probably a few times each month. One of the biggest breakthroughs happened one day in December when we got to talking about my Grandma Carol. She was the pillar of our family. Growing up, she lived with us, and in a lot of ways she was like another parent to me and my brother and sister. She was the woman who had a shrine to each of her grandkids in her room — pictures, awards, letters pinned up on the wall. And she was someone with simple values that I admired. It was funny, I once gave her a random pair of new Nikes, and she was so blown away that she called me to say thank you a handful of times over the year that followed.

When I made the NBA, she was getting older, and I didn’t see her as often as I used to. During my sixth year with the T-Wolves, Grandma Carol made plans to visit me in Minnesota for Thanksgiving. Then right before the trip, she was hospitalized for an issue with her arteries. She had to cancel her trip. Then her condition got worse quickly, and she fell into a coma. A few days later, she was gone.

I was devastated for a long time. But I hadn’t really ever talked about it. Telling a stranger about my grandma made me see how much pain it was still causing me. Digging into it, I realized that what hurt most was not being able to say a proper goodbye. I’d never had a chance to really grieve, and I felt terrible that I hadn’t been in better touch with her in her last years. But I had buried those emotions since her passing and said to myself, I have to focus on basketball. I’ll deal with it later. Be a man.

The reason I’m telling you about my grandma isn’t really even about her. I still miss her a ton and I’m probably still grieving in a way, but I wanted to share that story because of how eye-opening it was to talk about it. In the short time I’ve been meeting with the therapist, I’ve seen the power of saying things out loud in a setting like that. And it’s not some magical process. It’s terrifying and awkward and hard, at least in my experience so far. I know you don’t just get rid of problems by talking about them, but I’ve learned that over time maybe you can better understand them and make them more manageable. Look, I’m not saying, Everyone go see a therapist. The biggest lesson for me since November wasn’t about a therapist — it was about confronting the fact that I needed help.

PHOTO BY BRANDON DILL/AP IMAGES

One of the reasons I wanted to write this comes from reading DeMar’s comments last week about depression. I’ve played against DeMar for years, but I never could’ve guessed that he was struggling with anything. It really makes you think about how we are all walking around with experiences and struggles — all kinds of things — and we sometimes think we’re the only ones going through them. The reality is that we probably have a lot in common with what our friends and colleagues and neighbors are dealing with. So I’m not saying everyone should share all their deepest secrets — not everything should be public and it’s every person’s choice. But creating a better environment for talking about mental health … that’s where we need to get to.

Because just by sharing what he shared, DeMar probably helped some people — and maybe a lot more people than we know — feel like they aren’t crazy or weird to be struggling with depression. His comments helped take some power away from that stigma, and I think that’s where the hope is.

I want to make it clear that I don’t have things figured out about all of this. I’m just starting to do the hard work of getting to know myself. For 29 years, I avoided that. Now, I’m trying to be truthful with myself. I’m trying to be good to the people in my life. I’m trying to face the uncomfortable stuff in life while also enjoying, and being grateful for, the good stuff. I’m trying to embrace it all, the good, bad and ugly.

I want to end with something I’m trying to remind myself about these days: Everyone is going through something that we can’t see.

I want to write that again: Everyone is going through something that we can’t see.

The thing is, because we can’t see it, we don’t know who’s going through what and we don’t know when and we don’t always know why. Mental health is an invisible thing, but it touches all of us at some point or another. It’s part of life. Like DeMar said, “You never know what that person is going through.”

Mental health isn’t just an athlete thing. What you do for a living doesn’t have to define who you are. This is an everyone thing. No matter what our circumstances, 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. So if you’re reading this and you’re having a hard time, no matter how big or small it seems to you, I want to remind you that you’re not weird or different for sharing what you’re going through.

Just the opposite. It could be the most important thing you do. It was for me.

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist with over 20 years of experience treating teenagers and children. For more information about Dr. Rubino’s work or private practice visit his website www.RubinoCounseling.com or follow him on Twitter @RubinoTherapy.

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