John Wall details mental health issues in a Players’ Tribune essay

John Wall credits his mother’s dream visit after she died of breast cancer in December 2019, prompting the former Washington Wizards star to seek treatment as he considered suicide in the months that followed. He hopes that sharing his story will encourage others struggling with depression to be strong enough to seek help.

“It felt like she was standing right next to me,” Wall recalled in a powerful and revealing essay for the Players’ Tribune published Thursday. “She looked me in the eye and said, ‘You have to keep fighting for your children. You have something to do on this earth.”

Wall considered sleep “a sign from God.” As his world crumbled around him, he finally admitted to a friend that he needed help and began seeing a therapist. It saved his life.

Wall, who signed a two-year deal with the Los Angeles Clippers in July, opened up about his mental health for the first time in a one-on-one interview at a charity event last month.

“Darkest place I’ve ever been,” Wall said when asked about what the past 2 1/2 years have been like for him. “I mean, at one point I thought about suicide. There was a time when I had to go to a therapist. Many people think, “I don’t need help. I can get through it any time.” But you have to be true to yourself and figure out what’s best for you, and I did that.”

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Wall expanded on those comments in a Players’ Tribune essay, describing in great detail the confluence of life events that made him feel like suicide — which he admits is practically a taboo word in the community he grew up in — was “the only option.” .

In February 2019, the five-time NBA All-Star suffered an Achilles injury that forced him to miss the entire 2019-20 season and cost him the “only refuge” he’s ever known. His mother, Frances Ann Pooley, died 10 months later. Wall recalls calling his mom “six or seven times a day to hear her voicemail” in the days that followed.

“My best friend is no more,” he writes of his mother. “I can’t play the game I love. Everyone just held out their hands. No one checks me me. It always comes with something attached. Who will hold me back now? What’s the point of being here?”

In addition, Wall has become the subject of trade rumors. The Wizards, who selected him with the No. 1 pick in the 2010 draft, eventually traded him to the Houston Rockets for Russell Westbrook in December 2020.

“The franchise that I’ve sacrificed my blood, sweat and tears to represent for 10 years has decided it wants to move on,” Wall writes. “I was devastated, I’m not going to lie. That’s when I started debating — literally debating — whether I wanted to continue, almost every night.”

Wall said he tried to numb his pain by partying, but his dark thoughts returned when the party ended and his friends went home, and one night he “came close to making a bad decision and leaving this earth. »

Wall said the therapy “slowly turned things around” for him. He continues to see a therapist and has found a sense of peace and purpose in being a good father to his two young sons and carrying on his mother’s legacy. Wall hopes his story will serve as a lesson to others who may hesitate to ask for help, as he hesitated for so long.

“At the age of nine, I had to be the master of the house,” writes Wall, whose father died of liver cancer. “So my whole mind, regardless of the situation, was always, ‘I don’t need anybody’s help.’ I’ll figure it out. I’ve done everything else, so why not this?” Being a product of your environment is not a bad thing. But I think it’s both a blessing and a curse. Being a dog, being unbreakable, always having that chip on your shoulder — hey, I get it. I was that guy. But there will come a day when you can’t do it on your own. And you have to be strong enough that day to ask for help.”

If you or someone you know needs help, you can call or text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or 800-273-TALK (8255). You can also text a crisis counselor to 741741.

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