Eagles star Lane Johnson was arrested early hours over sexual assault by the police….

Eagles star Lane Johnson was arrested early hours over sexual assault by the police….

On the outside, Philadelphia Eagles star right tackle Lane Johnson seems to have it all.

Drafted by the Eagles in 2013 as the fourth overall pick, Johnson became a Super Bowl champion in 2017. Two years later, the three-time Pro Bowler signed a four-year contract with the Eagles worth more than $72 million. He’s set to play in the Super Bowl again, against the Kansas City Chiefs, on Feb. 12.

But internally, the 32-year-old says he’s spent most of his football career “living in hell” — battling bouts of high anxiety since his high school playing days.

On game days, Johnson says, he used to find himself throwing up or “dry heaving” to deal with the pressure. Making even a single mistake amidst an otherwise perfect game could draw intense scrutiny.

″[My job feels like] you are jumping out of an airplane, and you don’t know if you have a parachute on or not,” Johnson tells CNBC Make It.

For years, Johnson managed his anxiety with medication and therapy, he says. The medication became a problem: In October 2021, he took a leave of absence from the Eagles, missing three games to address his mental health while weaning himself off antidepressants.

At the time, “getting through a day was a lot,” he says, adding that the “monster” inside of him kept building, especially after suffering an ankle injury earlier that year.

It wasn’t Johnson’s first absence from his team, either. In 2014 and 2016, he was suspended by the NFL for violating the league’s policy against performance-enhancing drugs. He admitted to the mistake in 2014, and tried to appeal his case in 2016, ultimately losing.

Today, he says, he’s in a mentally healthier place. He credits the turnaround to learning how to more effectively handle and manage his mental health, and says he’s now focused on helping others going through similar struggles — while still continuing his football career with the Eagles.

Sharing his story, he says, is one way to help others. “I don’t want sympathy from anybody,” he says. “It’s just part of my story and part of who I am.”

Here, Johnson discusses his early symptoms of anxiety, how he found help and the daily tactics he uses to manage his mental health.

How Johnson first experienced his anxiety symptoms

It started, probably, during my senior year in high school. I went to a very small high school. I only had 30 kids in my graduating class, so it was easy to get overlooked. At the time, I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to get a scholarship offer [to play college football].

[At first], I didn’t know what it was. I just knew that it affected my eating, and I felt I was on edge all the time. Your body is in a constant state of high alertness and your body can never decompress. I could never turn the off-switch from football.

I kept it to myself because I wasn’t educated on it. I didn’t know how to describe it until it became more intense.

 

 

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