Destigmatizing mental illness: Theo leads the way for depressed sportsmen

Destigmatizing mental illness: Theo leads the way for depressed sportsmen

An athlete will never be afraid to talk about the physical ailments that he/she suffers, but talking about his or her mental health problem is another thing altogether. Discussions on mental health problems by an athlete, particularly a male , is still considered a taboo. In fact, more than a taboo, it is considered a sign of weakness in someone who is otherwise the epitome of perfection. Shunning such stereotypes, former professional hockey player Theo Fleury not just talked at length about his experiences with a mental illness and addiction, but also decided to stand as a support and inspiration for several others like him.

With undoubted talent and skills, the Canadian became an enviable figure in the world of hockey. He played 16 seasons of the National Hockey League (NHL) and bagged the coveted title of NHL All-Star seven times. His other distinguished achievements included winning the Olympic gold medal, Canada Cup, World Cup Junior Champion and the NHL Stanley Cup.

Trauma from abusive experiences led to mental illness

Despite the successes he achieved on the professional front, Fleury was failing miserably at the personal level. His addiction to alcohol and other substances was slowly taking a toll on his athletic career. However, in an interview, Fleury talked about the real reason for the decline in his professional career graph: sexual abuse as a child, which eventually caused anxiety and depression. He also wrote a book to explore his feelings — Playing With Fire (2009) and then another one — Conversations with a Rattlesnake (2014). His books give hope to numerous men.

Fleury also discussed how growing up with parents addicted to drugs was in his book, subsequent interviews and motivational speeches at various schools and colleges. He also shared his fears of being abandoned, how he felt unloved as a child and how anger became his defense mechanism. He also talked about the sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of his coach Graham James.

The resultant trauma of these abusive experiences pushed him toward depression. He admitted to having contemplated suicide multiple times. In fact, he once put a loaded gun in his mouth. It was then that he realized that his attempt at committing suicide was nothing but the only way out of the emotional pain that he knew of.

Fluery wants to support others

For a long time, everyone believed that it was Fleury’s addictions that ended his career but he revealed that the real reason behind his professional fall was his mental illness. That phase in his life is what prompted Fleury to ensure that no one else has to go through what he had to because he believes that “there is still a pretty big stigma attached to mental health in the locker room, especially as an active player. It’s probably harder for them guys to talk about what’s going on.”

Moreover, Fleury feels that in addition to a medical staff to help deal with the physical injuries of the players, a full-time psychologist and psychiatrist should also be brought on board to ensure that the players have not just a strong body, but a strong mind as well.

Taking control of your life

Depression, if left untreated, is like quicksand; you keep sinking into it. It is imperative for people to recognize the signs and symptoms of depression at the earliest so that timely treatment can be taken and a full recovery can be made before it gets too late.

If you notice the signs of depressive symptoms in yourself or people close to you, seek expert medical advice from credible depression recovery centers immediately. Get in touch with the Texas Depression Treatment Help to know about depression treatment centers in Texas that provide a holistic treatment program. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-827-0282 or chat online with our experts to get further information about the best depression treatment in Texas.