Royce White, who plays for the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA, suffers from generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and fear of flying. His anxiety has become a major obstacle for furthering his career because NBA players must fly frequently to different cities to play basketball.
White’s own words describe best the intensity of his fear:
“One hundred flights would be like if you’re allergic to peanut butter – it’d be like spreading your whole body with it.”
Like most people with anxiety and phobias, White’s strategy has been avoiding planes and requesting to be able to travel by bus. However, being in the NBA means traveling great distances and that has many disadvantages. White’s anxiety is seriously jeopardizing his future in the NBA.
In 2012 White went public with his struggle with anxiety. Since then, he has become an mental health advocate. His public crusade is much praiseworthy as long as he doesn’t accept his anxiety as a permanent condition. However, after reading several interviews where he explains his anxiety conditions, it became evident to me that this 21-year old basketball player believes that anxiety and fear are unbeatable. Unfortunately, White doesn’t know that he can overcome his anxiety-related conditions once and for all.
And I don’t blame him.
White, like all many other anxiety sufferers, listens to what ‘experts’ tell him. In numerous occasions I read psychologists explain that you cannot overcome anxiety, and that you must live with it for the rest of your life. The best they can do for you is to teach you a set of coping skills.
No wonder then that people like Royce White have given up. I wish I could let White know that I can help him banish his anxiety and fear of flying once and for all. White would better defend the rights of mental health sufferers in sport and elsewhere by overcoming his anxiety-related problems. This way he can give hope to other phobic and anxious people that that there is a solution.