Lift the Mask: It’s OK to Ask for Help
Hockey is a tough sport, and as athletes there is this myth that we’re supposed to be these strong people that aren’t affected by things the same way as others, but the truth is we’re humans just like anybody else with feelings and emotions, and sometimes those feelings and emotions are not well. For a long time we’ve had this misbelief that if we reach out for help when we are not doing well mentally there is something wrong with us. The truth is asking for help makes us stronger than we realize.
A perfect illustration of this misconception is not sport related, but applicable. I know a fella in the law enforcement field who has been suffering from PTSD after an incident that happened several years ago. He has used alcohol and other self destructive behaviors to deal with his demons until he hit a breaking point. Recently he had enough, and is now getting help. He mentioned to me that for so long he though it was a sign of weakness to admit he needed help, but once he did he said his phone wouldn’t stop as colleagues were calling and texting with support – telling him how strong he is by admitting he needed help.
It’s no different in the locker room. As teammates we pick on each other for everything as a form of locker room entertainment, so why wouldn’t we be afraid to be vulnerable about a mental infliction we may be having? First of all you don’t have to turn to your teammates or coaches for help. In fact they don’t even have to know you are getting help. The important thing is that you take the first step to let someone know you need/want help, then seek out the proper help.
If you are battling demons of your own know those close to you are there for you, and there is no shame in asking for help.