I missed a deadline, it seems like such a simple thing to a volunteer storyteller, yet in my heart and even in the midst of the ‘Off Season’ it is inexcusable and unbearable. So here I am prepared to participate in my favorite discussion topic and the inspiration for the majority of my creative output, Girls and Women’s Hockey. All of a sudden the moment fades, the same way it has every day for the last few months. I wish it was as simple as ‘Writer’s Block’ or some sort of ‘Brain Freeze’ in the barren two months between Playoffs and Preseason, but it is not, it is Depression.
These feelings and emotions are not new to me, in fact I have suffered from some form of anxiety and depression all of my life. It is a cold reality and at times can be the loneliest experience imaginable. Yet, as is common with this affliction, it is hard to fully understand and even harder to discuss openly, so even as I write this I am deleting more words and thoughts than I will actually put in print. This is my first attempt to expose myself to a broader audience, not so much for my own therapy but rather in the hopes that it helps someone else realize that they are not alone, ever.
It was 2009 before I had any official diagnosis and by then I had already been suffering to myself for just over thirty years. I am very certain there were tell-tale signs long before, from erratic behavior to openly self-deprecating comments to lengthy prolonged panic attacks, yet as a new father and husband my main objective was always to push onward for a career and stability. But where my depression gets me is in the overwhelming fear of failing, not myself, but others leading to anything but stability. It was at that time I was rushed from my place of business by ambulance in a complete mental and physical breakdown that at the time manifested itself in the same symptoms as a stroke.
When the ER Doctors and Staff assured me (and my wife) that I was not having a stroke, it was time to answer some very tough questions and come to some rather unpleasant realizations. I could not control my sadness nor my self-loathing. The medication and therapy that quickly followed helped tremendously, but was unfortunately designed specifically to return me to the workforce. Little did I know at the time that all the therapy, medications, and sleep modifications would stand no chance at helping me return to work, because on my very first day back I was reassigned, demoted and would be handed my Lay Off papers within the first six months after almost twelve years of employment.
Depression would creep back in and it would be some months until I was able to find work again, but I did and it was like starting all over, change is often difficult when you are subject to random panic attacks but I would push through. The first couple of years went great and I was adjusting quite well when I ran into some challenges with bullying and personal attacks. Given my sensitivity to this behaviour I asked for help and in the process divulged the facts of my medical situation. I was reassured then reassigned, then within the year removed without cause.
This is an overview of how I got to where I am now, but since my collapse in 2009 the one constant joy I have had (besides my loving wife and beautiful daughter) has always been the growth and passion that comes with being involved on any level with Girls/Women’s Hockey. Whether it has been working as a Manager for a minor girls’ team or sitting in the stands watching games in the PWHL, CIS, CWHL I draw courage and strength from the tenacious attitudes and incredible dedication these women apply to their craft. Still in its relative infancy, Women’s Hockey is exploding not because of the exposure and opportunities but rather in spite of the lack of either.
Spending the last few years sharing my storytelling of experiences in and around Female Hockey has truly been a thrill and I have been so blessed with all those who have reached out to me or that I have reached out to who share my deep passion for ensuring further growth and opportunity for young women around the world. Women’s Hockey is one of the most tolerant and encouraging environments I have ever been around and it gives hope and inspiration to girls who just want to be what they are, Hockey Players.
Understandably this has been one of the most difficult pieces to write for me personally but it has been some time since I have been able to write at all. So I guess when I said earlier that this was not meant for my own therapy, I was wrong. I know that I don’t suffer alone and I know there are so many like me out there. As more and more girls take to the ice to do what they were truly meant to do, it gives me hope that I can one day do what I was meant to do, be a teller of stories. There are more stories to come I assure you, and as I write these final words the sun has just come from behind the clouds to shine on me in my kitchen. Very fitting, because this just lifted a good deal of my darkness.