A few months after my father had passed away from his battle with brain cancer, I started going though some issues of my own. It started with a “random panic attack” one day out of the blue, and then raging non stop anxiety that I couldn’t escape for the life of me.
Obviously I knew something wasn’t right, it took be a long time for me to finally open up to someone and seek help.
After I was officially diagnosed with having depression and a generalized anxiety disorder I was shocked to say the least.
My first thought was, how embarrassing is this going to be to try to explain this to people within the organization, no one is going to understand, especially the boys in the room or my coach, all I wanted to do was keep this a secret and keep it to myself.
My second worry, and a much bigger concern than people finding out was, am I going to kill myself? That’s what people who are depressed do, right? I know this might sound a tad extreme, but these were the darkest times in my life, and my knowledge of depression at that time was quite limited. I was scared to say the very least.
For me, it was never really something I thought about, but after I had just watched 3 current and former NHL hockey players commit suicide themselves that year due to their untold battles with depression, all I could think was, if they didn’t have the tools to keep it together and battle their demons, then what chance did I have?
That thought consumed me for a long time, it honestly scared the shit out of me. Until one day I realized something. I realized that not everyone’s story had to be the same, not everyone goes through the same battles.
I told myself in that moment. That my battle and my story was going to be different. My story would have a different ending, I was not going to let this beat me that easily. I knew that there was work to do, and I was more than willing to do it.
This situation also taught me that everyone has problems. No matter how much money you have or what level of success you’ve reached, it doesn’t matter, depression, stress, anxiety don’t discriminate. These feelings and emotions affect everybody at some time on some level.
Left untreated these things build up in people over time. I remember my doctor telling me once that having depression is no different than breaking your arm, or your leg. The only difference is, it’s your brain that’s broken and not working properly. This made perfect sense to me, but it didn’t do much to change some people’s perception and opinion when it came to this type of injury.
People wouldn’t make fun of you for missing a game or not playing because you broke your arm and had a cast on right? So then, why was I so terrified of what people thought or were going to say now that I was dealing with a mental health issue and on antidepressants?
No matter what the reason or situation it didn’t matter. I was tired, weak, anxious, confused, and more than anything else terrified.
Pro hockey and competitive sports are not the most relaxed and understanding environments at the best of times, it’s all about performance and what can you do for me right now. Yes people care, and yes people are willing to help, but they also all want to win and it’s also a business on some level.
And having a mental health issue and not being 100% there and confident in your mind and in your ability to perform certainly doesn’t make things any easier. Feeling like you had no one to talk to or lacking the basic tools necessary to attack these kinds of issues makes it damn near impossible.
People often ask me why I’m so passionate about helping hockey players with their mindset or why I put all this time and effort into creating The Hockey Pro Training Academy.
And it’s my hope with posts like this that you start to understand my WHY
Seeing players have all the physical talent in the world and still struggle due to low levels of confidence, negative thinking, lack of focus or poor training habits kills me!
I want to see players thrive!
I want players to walk into the rink with their chests out, heads held high, listening to their favourite tune and feeling like they’re the best player in the world and can’t be stopped!
This is how I use to feel when I walked into a rink at my peak, and this is you have to feel in order to play at your best.
My Commitment to You
I’m 100% committed to doing whatever I can to make players feel the way I just described. This is what being zoned in is all about, this is what I teach at The Hockey Pro Training Academy.
I’ve spent years talking to experts, players and coaches who have played and coached at the highest levels. And inside the Hockey Pro Training Academy I’ve put together the blueprint of what I’ve found worked for the them and what I know will work for you.