Royce White's extremely public battle with anxiety has reached an entirely new level.
Not only are the Houston Rockets ready to fine White for every day he's away from the team—according to ESPN.com—White is also "willing to quit" and walk away from his dream of playing in the NBA—as reported by ESPN's Colleen Dominguez.
I hate to break it to you, Royce, but walking away from the game of basketball is the exact opposite of what you need to do if your real focus is on bringing the issue of mental illness into the spotlight.
Walking away from problems is what people do every day.
If White wants to be normal, then walking away is exactly what he should do. But I doubt that's the case for the star player from Iowa State.
Leaving the Rockets and backing out of his opportunity to truly be something special would be a travesty to all those who struggle with mental illness every day.
I know because I work with a lot of people just like Royce.
No, I don't work with professional NBA players. I work within higher education, where I talk to students every day who struggle with mental illness, ranging from anxiety to depression to adjustment disorders.
Mental illness is something that millions of people battle on a daily basis, and you know what?
It's an issue that millions of people overcome.
A majority of those people overcome it by working hard day-by-day to catch their triggers and to better understand exactly how their mental illness impacts them.
These people do that while working full-time jobs, or going to school to give themselves a better future.
They overcome their obstacles by seeking out resources and reaching out for people willing to help them.
Having resources handed to you, and an entire company—in Royce's case, the Rockets—seeking to give you help and assistance isn't a luxury that most people have.
That's why right now, White's "struggle" with transitioning into the NBA with his issues seems more like him being selfish than him truly wanting to overcome his obstacles.
I understand mental illness, and it's not just because I have my Master's degree in counseling. I've seen its impact on family members and I've felt its strong power in my own life.
The one thing I understand on a personal level too is that it's something that can be overcome.
But it can't be defeated unless you decide to move. Unless you decide to take the first step and make a difference in your own life.
Sure, White could be right that the Rockets aren't helping him like he'd like them to.
That doesn't change the fact that he has a chance to play the game he's loved for his entire life at the highest level, all while having a franchise that's willing to support him along the way.
White needs to stop blaming those around him, and take responsibility for the amazing opportunity he has in front of him. It's an opportunity that only a few will ever have.
If White can't succeed under those circumstances, than no one should be able to overcome mental illness. I know that's not the case though, and that's why I have hope that White can overcome.
White needs to stop focusing on standing up for his own health, and start thinking of the millions he can inspire if he steps foot on an NBA court and becomes the player we all know he can be.
"NBA might be a dream come true, but being UNHEALTHY isn't, people will know I stood up for myself and what's right. #NeverABadTime"— Royce White (@Highway_30) Nov. 16, 2012
Think larger than yourself, Royce. Be an inspiration for the millions that are going through what you're going through, but don't have the resources and support you do.
Mental illness can be overcome, White just isn't doing a good job of showing us that it's possible.
Winning this battle isn't an option for White. If he loses and walks away from the NBA, he'll be giving up on himself and the millions that could look to him for inspiration.
If that happens, it will be a sad day.
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