From the tragic story of San Jose Sharks prospect Tom Cavanagh to the struggles of Rick Rypien (NOTE: I don't claim to know what Rick is going through, this seems like the most likely problem though), the spotlight on issues of mental health and depression have been highlighted in hockey this year. 1 in 5 Canadians will suffer from some form of mental illness in their lifetime. Chances are you know someone right now being treated for depression. Today is Let's Talk day, a chance for Canadians to talk openly about mental illness, and after the jump I want to talk a little about my own battle with depression.
Having only lived in Victoria for a few years we haven't made a ton of friends, but Dean was one of the first. He was a big guy like myself, smart and funny with a soft spoken side that belied his appearance. I was able to help him get jobs at two different places I worked at; one doing stone masonry with me, then later at the place I went to after leaving that job. Dean always had a smile or a joke for anyone he met, so one night riding the bus home from work when he talked about suicide it was a shock, to say the least. He had been reading a book on it, and perhaps it was naivete on my part, but I didn't realize at the time it was a cry for help.
When the layoffs started at work, he was one of the first to go. They told us it was temporary, the company relies on mostly American investors and the economic crisis hit it hard. I told him that I would keep my eyes open for a new job for him if I saw anything at all. It was the last time I saw him. I spoke to him once on the phone, he was unable to find work, was struggling to make rent and despite all that, seemed to be in good spirits.
I was getting ready to go to a concert, two of my favorite bands playing here in Victoria (Kreator and Exodus) when I saw the facebook posting from a mutual friend that Dean had taken his own life. Immediately I went back to that conversation on the bus. Why didn't I say something? Could I have prevented this? It was then that I found out he had struggled with depression for years.
Later that year, I became ill with what they first thought was the flu. Days turned to weeks and no matter what the doctors tried, they couldn't get rid of it. I felt like I had been hit by a truck. Every muscle ached, I was dizzy and all I wanted to do was sleep. I tried working, but eventually had to stop until I could get a clean bill of health from the doctor. The doctors meanwhile struggled to tell me just what was wrong. They thought it was H1N1, and even tested me for a fungal lung infection only found on Vancouver Island. I had 4 chest xrays in a matter of months, and as the days passed I began to get worried about whether this was more serious than they thought. I had already had 2 cancer scares in a year, and this wasn't helping.
I went to see another doctor after my family doctor told me I just needed to ride it out. It was at that time the 2nd doc decided to test me for depression. It all began to make sense. What caused it? Not sure you can ever know. Depression is caused by chemical imbalances in the brain, and there's no way to predict when and if they'll happen, and they can happen to anyone. At the time, I was in a state where I didn't even want to leave the house. I suffered extreme anxiety around people, my heart would pound and it became difficult to breathe. The worst part was if I had to go out, it felt like everyone was looking at me, and they knew there was something wrong with me. I could hear their thoughts. My contact with the outside world was mainly online. And even there I began to struggle, my posts here at NM began to be sporadic. I can't say enough about how understanding Yankee & Sean were as I tried to get a handle on this.
The battle wages on for me. I am currently on two anti-depressants, and see a psychiatrist regularly. I have also seen a councellor, and may begin seeing him again as my doctors try and determine why I am not responding as well as they would like to treatment. It's a day by day struggle for me, and if not for my wife Laurie I can't even imagine how much more difficult this journey might have been. I don't know when I will feel right again, but I do know I will.
If you know anyone who might be suffering from depression, please encourage them to get help. It's more common than you think, and with the right help, most depressions can be cured in a matter of months. Check out http://www.bell.ca/letstalk or http://www.depressionhurts.ca for more information.
The Canucks are back in action tonight, and breathing a collective sigh of relief as the news on Keith Ballard is much better than feared. It's a testament to this team's depth on the back end, one of the things that GM Mike Gillis set out to remedy after the loss to Chicago in last year's playoffs. Chris Tanev draws back in tonight, but likely be the odd man out Saturday as the Canucks welcome Sami Salo back to the lineup for the first time since that fateful game 6 against the Blackhawks.
Cory Schneider is in goal for the Canucks, and Curtis McIlhenny gets the start for the Ducks. Anaheim has been playing well of late, due to strong play by Corey Perry and G Jonas Hiller. With Hiller now on IR with what the team is calling 'fatigue' and new signing Ray Emery just beginning his conditioning stint in the minors, the Ducks could see their playoff fortunes dwindle should Hiller be out for an extended spell.
A toasted English Muffin...
With wins last night, the fans in Toronto and New Jersey are suddenly talking playoffs. No, seriously. While the Leafs are only 8 points out and could conceivably make it, the Devils trying to get into contention with Marty Brodeur nursing a sore knee seems as much of a long shot as ever, despite how well they've played as of late... Another team surging into contention is the Calgary Flames. They've won 6 in a row and gone from 14th to 8th in the West. Is this really a good thing for them? Sure they've gotten some cap relief through injuries, but with a huge amount tied up in salary for next season, and nothing guaranteed the Flames are looking more like they will be buyers than sellers come February 28th. These next couple weeks will determine whether this recent stretch was just a blip on the radar of a team that just needs to start over, or they really were being held back by former GM Darryl Sutter... New Jersey's Anton Volchenkov was handed a 3 game suspension this morning for his elbow to the face of Carolina's Zack Boychuk. The collective hockey world is waiting to hear the outcome of their other disciplinary hearing this morning with Pittsburgh's Matt Cooke. Cooke was given a 5 minute boarding penalty last night after running Columbus' Fedor Tyutin from behind. I am not confident that Cooke will receive anything for his most recent transgression... The New York Islanders goalie woes continue, as they had their 5th stringer in net last night after starter Nathan Lawson tweaked his knee in the warmup. Mikko Koskinen will get the start against Montreal, looking to shake off the loss which saw him let in the first two shots he faced in his NHL career. Meanwhile, Evgeni Nabokov sits at home, the victim of the Islanders vicious destruction of his dreams of a Stanley Cup run with the Detroit Red Wings... The Pittsburgh Penguins lost another one last night, this time to the Columbus Blue Jackets as they continue to fold under the pressure of not having their two superstars in the lineup. With Evgeni Malkin gone til next season and no return in sight for Sidney Crosby, an extended losing streak will surely force Pens GM Ray Shero to pull the trigger on a trade to try and stop the bleeding... Speaking of the Ducks, Aaron Voros has cleared waivers as of 9 am, and the Leafs have put F John Mitchell on the waiver wire... and then I look over at Twitter and I see this: