FROM DARK TO LIGHT
Just four years ago, I was in a much darker place in my life. After a tough childhood and hockey career, I struggled deeply with my own identity. We won the Sutherland Cup Championship in my last year as London National. The party began and I quickly spiralled out of control.
After a summer of celebrating and experimenting, my father had a heart attack. The stress of everything surmounted at once. A combination of stress, an existential crisis, and substances drove me to the brink. It was classified as drug-induced psychosis. I had experienced an ego dissolution from psilocybin mushrooms and marijuana. Several extremely powerful experiences both changed me for the better but detached me farther from reality.
I stopped believing in money. I started walking everywhere. The sadness that had resided in me so long rose to the surface. It overwhelmed me. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to deal with all these thoughts. So many of them felt like powerful revelations. So, I shared.
I shared videos and pictures on Instagram, Facebook, and website. This was in 2013. The pace of social media was not accelerated as it is now. I was posting 4 to 10 times a day. I was shocking and scaring people. My personality, my priorities, and my life had all changed so suddenly and radically.
The constant posting led to a lot of problems with my friends, family, and acquaintances. I was experimenting with psilocybin and marijuana constantly, not understanding the power of these substances. I was trying to self-heal. I found some activist hippie friends to spend my time with instead of the normal group of friends I had hung out with my whole life.
I didn’t want to drink anymore. I needed to distance myself, I replaced the bar nights out with psychedelic walks and nights in. With my new friends or without them.
You can only last so long without money. The house my teammates rented was no longer welcoming. I moved in with my grandmother and grandfather at the farm I grew up outside of London, Ontario. They took me in and cared for me.
But on the inside, I was devastated. I was gaining weight (my grandma’s pies were delicious but didn’t help), I had isolated myself, and I felt that after what amounted to basically a public breakdown on social media I didn’t think anyone would ever look at me the same. I felt embarrassed. I felt ashamed.
One morning I work up at my grandmother’s place and I said: “grandma if you don’t take me to the hospital right now I’m going to hurt myself”. Could you imagine saying that to your grandmother? I’ll never forget the look on her face that morning. I didn’t know what else to do.
I spent a week in hospital in in-patient care. I felt like a prisoner. I felt like I was getting experimented on. The people in there with me illuminated just now problems we have in this world. After the week, I told the doctors I felt better. I didn’t.
I moved between my mother and grandparents’ places. I continued to isolate myself. Playing video games. Watching movies. I was constantly suicidal. I would look at different ways to take my life. After several tests, one day I seriously tried.
Partway through, as I felt myself getting weaker, I realized just how much damage I was doing to everyone around me. All the things I would miss out on with them. I remembered all the things that make my life so magical.
I pulled myself up and drove to my mom’s house to tell her what happened. Crying and yelling I was taken back to the hospital. This time I spent almost two months in in-patient care. It was still terrifying and traumatic, but the extended length helped me improve incrementally.
With one-on-one and group therapy, art, and mindfulness, musical therapy and exercise, I went from having suicidal thoughts every second, to once a minute, to once an hour to a whole day without any harming thoughts. I began to reexperience happiness.
I continue to work hard at my business while maintaining self-care through yoga, writing, hockey, and counselling. I know that although the battle with mental illness can last a lifetime, you can still thrive and live a happy life with the right tools and support.