It's amazing the difference a year makes, isn't it? A year ago I was here talking to you about my struggles with depression, taking advantage of the Let's Talk initiative sponsored by Bell Canada to get people to end the silence about dealing with the painful struggle of those that suffer from depression, as well as the people who are directly affected by it: family, friends and coworkers.
I believe to this day that opening up to you all was a huge step in my recovery, a cathartic release even. I also spoke about a player near and dear to our hearts, Rick Rypien, and the struggles he was facing at the time. I suggested that it was in fact depression that he was suffering from, and while hindsight shows us that the personal leaves he took from the team were in fact that, all we had was speculation. I hate that so many of us were right, and not a day has gone by since that awful summer afternoon when we got the word about Ryp, that I don't think about him and wish that somehow he could have gotten through this. But it was his refusal to stay silent that provides the inspiration, more important than ever, that silence about depression, whether yours or someone you love's is wrong. So let's talk, shall we?
A few months after this event, I had progressed enough in my treatment that the severe anxiety I felt was under control enough, and I was able to represent Nucks Misconduct at the Stanley Cup Finals. It was the biggest thrill of my life, next to my kids being born. It wasn't just because I was able to achieve this dream, but also such a huge step personally, to go from days where I couldn't even leave the house, to being jammed into the insanity of Media Day, surrounded by hundreds of people. I would not have been able to do this just a few short months before.
We Canucks fans are often the butt of cruel jokes, and we've faced the kind of unimaginable heartbreak over the last 4 years that would cripple other fan bases. We've had to say goodbye to players far before their time, not to mention the soul-wrenching loss to the Bruins in game 7. And that's why the loss of Rick Rypien hurt even more. We were already vulnerable, those wounds fresh in our minds not just of seeing a foe raise the cup in our rink, as well as the pain that lingered from the tragic death of Luc Bourdon. The unimaginable horror of the news that Rypien had lost his battle with the demons of depression, followed by former Canuck Pavol Demitra's shocking demise in the Lokomotiv plane crash made me wonder if this team is in fact, cursed.
It's so amazing to see the Canucks honouring Rypien's memory with their participation in the Mindcheck.ca project. It's great because it can provide people trying to understand what someone they're close with is going through and how to help them with that first, and very crucial step: refusing to stay silent. Depression is nothing to be ashamed of. It's not a weakness. It's not an excuse. The pain that I (and MrsWaachcast, who has also suffered from this) have endured is not from being weak, lazy or disinterested. And the battle is not over for us. She is still fighting hard, day after day, as I am myself.
I have been working hard to fight against the most visible scar from this ordeal: the huge amount of weight I put on through the depression, a combination of eating to numb the pain, inactivity and the wonderful side effect of the medications I was on to treat my illness. I know that some people swear by medicinal remedies, and for a number of people, because it is a chemical issue, it's a necessary thing. I feel like the medications I was on overall did me more harm than good, the side effects still lingering as my body rids itself of the last traces. I am not saying I am anti-medication. It just didn't do for me what my doctor and I had hoped it would. Indeed some people can come out of depression naturally. What is right for you is up to you and your doctor, ultimately.
So where from here? Well, today I am going to post a video at Mindcheck, my pledge to fight, and I would love to see you all do the same. Lend your voice and let those you know see that you have their back. I know that this could come back, and when it does, with Laurie at my side I know I will defeat it. Rick Rypien may have lost his battle, but his memory will give us the strength to win the war. Thank you, to each and every one of you for allowing me to share our story with you. You all played a part in recovering from this, with this amazing community we know as Nucks Misconduct. For Rick. For Wade Belak. For Derek Boogaard. For everyone touched by this. I will not stay silent.