Liz Cambage has penned a powerful article about her day-to-day battle with anxiety and depression, comparing her struggles to being caught in a rip at the beach. The Australian basketball star explained she wanted to tell the “truth of what’s been going on with me” after sitting out some recent games with the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces.
The 27-year-old has battled mental health problems on and off for half of her life. “I wanted to let everyone know that my mental health … it got caught up in the rip last week,” Cambage wrote in The Players Tribune on Sunday. “And it wasn’t pretty. It was actually pretty ugly.”
The Olympian described how she had been sober for months but at the recent WNBA All-Star weekend in Las Vegas it “spiralled into partying … which spiralled into drinking … which spiralled into exhaustion”. After a game earlier this month against the LA Sparks she “completely lost it”.
“I found an empty hallway outside the locker room, still in my uniform and started to panic,” Cambage wrote. “I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t stop crying. I was having the most uncontrollable anxiety attack – a full-on breakdown. I had to call for help.”
Cambage was listed as “Did Not Play-Rest” for two recent WNBA games but she said the accurate description was “DNP-Mental Health”. After the Sparks game she had “some difficult conversations with some people who care about me – and some conversations with myself that were long overdue”. She decided to go back on her medication.
Cambage detailed how some days start off like “a normal sunny day at the beach” relaxing with friends but suddenly she is dragged into deeper water, her friends disappear, the sun goes away, she can’t breathe, enormous, dark waves appear “and you drown”.
Cambage returned to the court for the Aces on Friday and dominated with 28 points and 11 rebounds in an 87-84 win against the Chicago Sky. She supports the NBA’s new rule to have a mental health professional on the staff of every team but questioned why the WNBA did not do the same.
“We’re probably not at a place yet – and we probably won’t be anytime soon – where the official box score is actually going to say something like DNP-Mental Health,” Cambage wrote.
“But in the meanwhile … here’s your Liz Cambage injury update: She was day-to-day with anxiety and depression – and she still is. To be honest, she probably always will be. And you know what? That’s OK.”