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As we raise awareness for mental health on this day, I share some of my story

#BellLetsTalk

My eyes open as I lay in bed and immediately I begin dread the day.

I continue to lay there looking up at my room’s ceiling. My cat, Gryffindor Quidditch Team Captain Pawliver Wood, lies close to my legs that are covered. My thoughts are filled with voices telling me, “I can’t do this. I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to face the world. Maybe this will be the day that I give up.” I’m exhausted from waking up multiple times during the night, and even then any moments of slumber I achieve is light. It’s a daily struggle, better yet, a daily battle, that I have to struggle with. At times it may take hours- or sometimes it’s just 20 minutes - until I finally sit up before willing myself to begin the cycle.

I suffer from severe depression and anxiety. I face it head-on every second, every minute, hourly, daily, etc. Some days are great, and some days are indescribably bad. I’ve been dealing with depression for many, many years. I started suffering anxiety attacks in 2016 a year after I transferred my job to where I currently am working. Unfortunately, the overwhelming foot traffic doesn’t help with the stress, and instead adds greatly to it, and for many years (and even very, very recently) I have wanted to end it all. I’ve yearn to feel what my definition of “normal” is. I’ve also thought that I just a huge failure and a burden to my friends and family, so what’s the point of continuing on with this life? The contemplation has always occurred, but then I stop because now, I think mainly of my mother and what she’s gone through. What we as a family have gone through.

Things for me took a huge hit when my father unexpectedly passed away from a massive heart attack. He was revived, but was severely brain damaged due to a lack of oxygen for 18 minutes. He held on for two weeks until he finally left us. This was also two weeks before my birthday. Losing my dad has been the hardest thing I’ve had happen to me so far in my life. I’m the only son in our immediate family, and I looked to my dad for advice dealing with life situations. I wasn’t ready to lose him.

Coping with the loss has been another difficult task, and I find it hard to talk to my mother because she’s still grieving her husband of 43-years in her way. She now travels between my home in Southern California, my sisters’ who live near Yosemite and Indianapolis, respectively. My sisters have children, and it’s good for her to spend time with her grandchildren. At many stretches, I’m alone in my house with my cats...ok, that sounds pathetic, but I love animals (and that’s another story).

Today is #BellLetsTalk Day, which is an important time of awareness within the hockey world and chiefly among Canadians. The event was started by the Canadian communications company, Bell, and it’s mission is to raise awareness and combat the stigma around mental health. Since 2011, the initiative has raised over $93 million for mental health programs in Canada by simply using the hashtag “#BellLetsTalk” each year. Every time the hashtag is used on every major social network platform such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, five Canadian cents is donated (That’s like $30 USD!).

Many professional hockey players have been very open about their desire to raise awareness due to unfortunate deaths of former players, such as Rick Rypien, Derek Boogaard, and Steve Montador, and Todd Ewen. These players notably have suffered severe depression mainly due to post-concussion-syndrome. Former Duck Kevin Bieksa has been quite honest about his own personal experiences with friends and colleagues and is an advocate of the former mindcheck.ca which is now Foundry, B.C.

Many of us deal with anxiety, depression, panic disorders. For some, it’s manageable. For others, it is crippling, and a great number of us can hide it very well under our own masks. I felt that it would be good to share some of my story on this day, not to have a spotlight pointed on me, but to continue to raise awareness. And for you who suffer too, don’t think that you’re lesser of a person for having to battle. There is no shame in any of it. You’re not alone. Talk to someone about it. Because let me tell you, it’s not good to keep everything in - that’s something I’m still learning. Be it a professional, a friend, or a family member... just find someone. The start is the hardest, but it may do you some good because just simply talking about your worries or anxiety is one of the first steps to becoming a more healthy you. I’ve slowly begun to take my small steps, if you have, be proud that you’re trying to make a go of it. For those who are in the shadows uncertain of the future, you can at least have the knowledge that there are many of us beside you.

So, Let’s Talk.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: ‭(800) 273-8255‬


Make sure to use #BellLetsTalk as much as you can today on social media to help the cause. For every time the hashtag is used or retweeted, Bell donates 5¢ towards mental health initiatives. You can also help on Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram as well.