WNBA star Liz Cambage reveals mental health struggles in candid essay

Liz Cambage has opened up about her battle with depression and anxiety, which she said spiraled out of control as recently as the end WNBA’s All-Star Weekend at the end of July.

The Las Vegas Aces star penned a candid essay for “The Player’s Tribune” — under the headline, “DNP — Mental Health” — about how her struggles with mental health have affected her and included how she needed to take time off after she suffered a panic attack when players returned from All-Star Weekend.

She detailed how horribly she played in the first two games back from the break, which led to her sobbing and struggling to breathe in the hallway outside of the locker room.

“My agent came and got me, and took me back to our team hotel so I could take some anxiety meds,” Cambage wrote. “I try to avoid that unless it’s an emergency, because my body and mind live in a fog for the next 14 hours. But better to live in a fog than get carried away by the tide. 

“That’s what happens — that’s the cycle. And eventually either you break it, or it breaks you.”

Cambage, a native of Australia, revealed that partying throughout the All-Star Weekend — even though she struggled with alcohol abuse as a teen — and going off her medication contributed heavily to her breakdown.

While she said she’s normally very good about taking her medication, it dulled her senses and she wanted to ” feel a little more.”

However, she said after a game against the Los Angeles Sparks, she needed to take time off and go back on her medication immediately. That meant starting at square one, in which remains in bed resting while getting used to the medication again.

“It was really important to me to not just “clear the air” here. I didn’t want to say ‘just enough’ about what happened so that people would stop asking questions. I didn’t want to shout out, ‘HASHTAG MENTAL HEALTH!!!!’ — and then have that be the end of it,” she wrote.

“I wanted to tell you the real truth of what’s been going on with me. Because what’s been going on is not some secret, or mystery. It’s not some huge scandal.

“What’s been going on is just … my life.”

Cambage, who said she has been dealing with anxiety and depression since she was a teen, especially when she was away from her family and support system in Australia, said that she knows she will be dealing with mental health issues the rest of her life.

Because of how mental health plays a part in Cambage’s daily life, she praised the NBA for instilling a mental health plan for members of the men’s league but called for more.

“(I)t’s disappointing to me that we’re praising anyone for ‘progress,’ when so many women are being excluded from it. I mean … doesn’t the WNBA deserve this same program?” she asked.

“And even beyond the W — even beyond sports: Isn’t mental healthcare just elemental? Isn’t it one of those things where we should just decide that every person needs access to it, and then … find a way? Every school, every workplace, every sporting program, just — everyone. Everyone should have a mental health professional. It’s a doctor! Do you know what I mean? It’s literally a physio for your brain.

“It’s treating someone as a human being.”

Cambage reassured fans that despite the setback, she is here and is fighting and while there isn’t a spot on official box scores yet that echo her essay’s headline, “DNP — Mental Health,” she closes by saying her “injury update” would read that “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 O.K.”