I’ve written this, or something similar, on various blogs I’ve had, both public and semi-anonymous (without my name attached but followed by some people I know in real life), at least a dozen times. I’ve never posted it.
I am very open about some of my mental health issues. The ones that are easier for me to talk about. I have ADHD and dyslexia. There are other aspects of my mental health I’m not as open about. My closest friends know I deal with anxiety but not as many know about my struggles with depression.
Those two shouldn’t be that surprising to those who know I have ADHD because of how often depression and anxiety are co-morbid with ADHD.
For years growing up, I didn’t know what I was experiencing was anxiety. Don’t get me wrong, I knew what anxiety was. I just didn’t realize what I was going through was anxiety. I wouldn’t be able to sleep the night before a big test or the day a project/presentation that I didn’t really prepare for. If my parents would ask, I’d simply respond that I couldn’t sleep and I didn’t know why.
That’s a prime example of why not many people know what I deal with. I don’t like to talk about my issues because I don’t like to make things about myself. And the memes are based in reality: your anxiety stresses you out then the depression swoops in and tells you that no one cares.
This is also a prime example of how I am terrible at taking my own advice. I always have been in pretty much every aspect of life. I can give out awesome advice and support for my friends; then I do the exact opposite in my own life. I’ve always been a big proponent of ending the stigma around mental health and yet, I hardly ever discuss my own issues.
I’d like to thank The Sin Bin’s Editor-in-chief, Matthew Harding, for giving me the kick in the pants to finally follow through on this article. He mentioned in an off-season writer’s workshop that he’d like to see us write about our own struggles or those of someone we knew for Movember. I decided that night I’d finally do this thing.
Luckily, it’s been years since my last major depressive state, but I still deal with anxiety quite frequently. In fact, as I write this piece, I’m sitting in my living room at 3:30 a.m. on Oct. 18 listening to music on YouTube through my TV. I can’t sleep. At least this time, I know what I am anxious about. My wife and I have our first pregnancy appointment with an OB-GYN in about five hours. We’ve since announced our pregnancy so I’m not letting the cat out of the bag. Trust me, I’m excited as hell and this is a lot better than just generalized anxiety or being stressed about a job.
When I left high school, I decided to stop taking medication for my ADHD. I’m not anti-medicine or doctors. I just hated the side effects of my medicine and decided to find ways to handle it and work with it (with, not around) on my own. That’s how I’ve handled my depression and anxiety so far, but I’ll likely look into seeing a mental health professional soon to help better manage my anxiety.
The two biggest things that have helped me handle things throughout my life have been music and hockey. In fact, during my last major depressive period, the one thing that put a smile on my face with any regularity was going to the NYTEX Sports Centre to watch/cover the Central Hockey League’s Fort Worth Brahmas.
Whenever I’m anxious or depressed, hockey has always been able to make me at least a little bit okay. Whether that is covering a game for The Sin Bin, driving seven-ish hours to see the Tampa Bay Lightning take on my wife’s Anaheim Ducks, sitting in an empty rink and watching practice, or just sitting on my couch watching my Lightning play; I’m happy in that moment.
I’m assuming that if you’re reading The Sin Bin, hockey is your Happy Place like it is mine. But if it doesn’t help you cope, and even if it does but not enough, find something that does. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from friends, family, or mental health professionals. And if you need a friend, send me a DM on Twitter @SinBinIceFlyers.
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