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Ben Simmons’ mental health is a chance to listen, not have a hot take


Sports

Ben Simmons’ mental health is a chance to listen, not have a hot take


It’s impossible to put my finger on what would set me off, or how exactly it would manifest itself. Sometimes plans changing at the last second would ruin my day. Something as simple as a pot boiling over would throw me off so badly it was tough to finish making dinner. I’d get ornery, and passive-aggressive without even knowing it — lashing out unfairly at the people I loved because my brain couldn’t cope with pressure it put on itself.

The most difficult part of struggling with your mental health is even recognizing that you’re struggling. I went 33 years before being diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and it’s the most important thing I learned. Medicine and cognitive behavioral therapy changed my life, but more importantly I learned that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to mental health. It’s what makes mental disorders so pervasive and frustrating. If you break an arm everyone can imagine what it’s like to be without an arm. If you freak out because plans get pushed back three hours and you weren’t ready for it, few can understand what that feels like. You’re labeled as “difficult” or “weird,” and the only solution is to either shut down, or grit your teeth and bear it, knowing the next few hours will be extremely difficult, or even mentally paralyzing.

So when it comes to this ludicrous public referendum on what is and isn’t “acceptable” when it comes to Ben Simmons’ mental health, it makes me furious. This all began during the 21 playoffs. Simmons was coming off an incredible season, making his third All-Star game in a row and helping to lead the Sixers to the No. 1 seed in the East. Then, he began to struggle in a series against the Hawks that everyone had Philadelphia pegged to win. Simmons struggled to make free throws, and passed up a wide-open dunk in the closing moments of Game 7, only to have coach Doc Rivers and team leader Joel Embiid throw him under the bus publicly.

Things got bad enough that Simmons wanted a trade, holding out from the Sixers, saying his mental health was in bad shape. This is when instead of taking him at…



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