Jahlil Okafor opens up over mental health struggles on Instagram
New Orleans Pelicans center Jahili Okafor could finally get over the hump.
In a ‘transformation picture’ that he posted on his Instagram account, Okafor talked about how he fought through anxiety and stress.
My summer of transformation: First off I want to thank @idanwan & @dzandertraining for getting after it with me the moment my season ended. Grateful to have two of the best in their respective fields work with me all summer. Although the physical changes in this photo are evident, their has been extreme growth unbenounced to the eye. I’ve learned how to identify and manage different stressors such as anxiety. Learning how to identify certain stressors has also allowed me to over come them. Often times because of my size and profession people may view me in a certain way, but in reality I deal with the same struggles as countless others. Mental health awareness is a cause I will fight for the rest of my life and if you’re struggling today don’t be afraid to speak with someone and seek help. I would like to thank @kevinlove and the @playerstribune for helping me identify my feelings and informing me what I was dealing with was in fact normal. 6 weeks left in the off season; with a lot more work to do!
“Often times because of my size and profession people may view me in a certain way, but in reality I deal with the same struggles as countless others. Mental health awareness is a cause I will fight for the rest of my life and if you’re struggling today don’t be afraid to speak with someone and seek help.”
Thanks to a rigid offseason work, Okafor could be in the best shape of his career. But the 2015 3rd overall pick didn’t dwell on his physical transformation as he voiced out uplifting remarks on mental health awareness.
It could also be traced that the San Antonio Spurs shooting guard Demar DeRozan and Cleveland Cavaliers big man Kevin Love were the first ones to pave the way for their fellow players to take mental health seriously.
Love’s anxiety reached a high during a game against the Atlanta Hawks last season. Bruce Y. Lee of the Forbes had his take on it.
“Then in the third quarter of the game, he became unusually out of breath, feeling like his mouth was chalky, his heart was racing faster than usual, and his brain was trying to climb out of his head. When he couldn’t physically re-enter the game after a time-out, he ran back into the locker room, became disoriented, and eventually checked into the Cleveland Clinic.”
DeRozan also opened up how anxieties and depression got the best of him. Both players have emphasized that even though they play a ‘man’s game’, it doesn’t mean that they are always in good, strong shape.
Okafor had a tumultuous stint with his first team, the Philadelphia 76ers. He showed promise in his first season when he averaged 17.5 points and 7 rebounds per game. But his career went downhill from there as the Sixers traded him to the Brooklyn Nets last season.
This season, Okafor is expected to serve a quality backup role to Pelicans superstar big man Anthony Davis and Julius Randle.