"I will not allow myself to become an example where, 10 years down the line, I've been dealing with a stressful work environment for so long that now I'm depressed, now I'm drinking all the time and now, I flip my car," he said. "That's not going to happen."
White knew his request to the Rockets would attract attention. He's been fielding interview requests from media for a week. He embraces the opportunity to be an advocate and help change the stigma of mental illness.
"One of the things I would tell people is that it's a disability, like any other," he said. "Just because you can't see my wheelchair, doesn't mean it's not there."
White points to the growing awareness of concussions in the NFL and other sports and outbursts of violence at schools. He's hoping his story reaches children, most of all.
"How many kids are getting bullied at school? And then, all of a sudden, they bring a gun to school and then we have something that has tragic consequences," he said. "By me talking about it, maybe I could save someone else's life, who knows?"
White thinks that if he hadn't taken measures to help himself now, he might have spiraled into the abuse of alcohol, drugs or another addiction.
"If I'm stressed out, if I have an anxiety disorder that gets out of control, and I start to do heroin, for example, how dangerous am I?" he said. "So tackling it from the front was important. That's what I kind of did, to take care of my own health first, but also to take a stand for tackling mental illness on the front end, instead of the back end, when the negative things emerge."
For now, White has no grand visions of basketball glory. Whether he becomes an All-Star or leads the Rockets to an NBA championship is not as important as confronting his disorder.
"Everybody looks at it like, 'Man, it's the NBA. Anyone would kill to be there,'" he said. "But who would kill themselves to be there? That's basically the choice you're making."
Associated Press Writer Chris Sherman, in McAllen, Texas; and AP Sports Writer Luke Meredith, in Ames, Iowa, contributed to this report.