Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Those facing mental health challenges can still be great in all parts of life

All set to cover the Memorial Cup in Regina in May of 2018.
    People who have mental health challenges can still function and be great in life.
    It seems like that last sentence I wrote is hard to believe.
    Since 2012, I have known I have battled with issues dealing with anxiety. There is still a stigma around mental health issues, and they are unfortunately still treated as the elephant in the room in too many circles.
    I write about my experiences on the mental health front in hopes it will help others. Since 2016, I’ve kept up with a tradition where I write a post regarding mental health on Bell Let’s Talk day.
    This year, I am hoping to get the message out that those that deal with mental health challenges can still be great in their everyday lives and have success.
    Part of the stigma around mental health is the belief it isn’t possible for those dealing with mental health challenges to be great in their everyday lives.
    When you admit to dealing with a mental health challenge, it almost feels like others treat you as damaged goods, and that you should be thrown away. At least, that is how I have felt some have reacted to me in some circles, especially if I go out and interview for jobs. It seems like anything you have done to meet or overcome those challenges is not noticed in job interviews.
Pictured with a Parker Kelly bobblehead doll in Prince Albert.
    It seems like there is a belief that those that deal with mental health challenges aren’t capable functioning well at anything, so they should be tossed to the side.
    If we as a society are to break the stigma that surrounds mental health, that line of thinking has to change.
    Put it this way, Clara Hughes won two bronze medals competing in the 1996 Olympic Summer Games in cycling and one gold, one silver and two bronze medals over three Winter Olympics in speed skating while battling depression. She accomplished some pretty impressive things dealing with her mental health challenges.
    As for me, I find the spot I really take off is when I am covering a sporting event, especially WHL hockey games. Since I am in my 20th season covering major junior hockey, I seem to be in a comfortable spot, when I cover one of those games.
    When I cover a WHL game, it seems my mind often gets triggered to remembering some other good time I had from covering that circuit in past years. Those memories get me even more pumped to do well at that night’s game.
Visiting the Broncos bus crash memorial in Swift Current.
    If a game is intense or hangs in the balance needing to be decided by a late third period goal or in an extra session, I feel like I am absurdly calm. At that point in a game, I am looking to see who will be the player that steps up to make a play to win the game. Overall, I am always intrigued what that night’s story is going to be.
    Covering games on that circuit is second nature to me. When I head to the rink, my mind is set I am going to get to the game, do my thing and everyone is going to be impressed by what I do.
    Of course, readers won’t agree or be impressed with everything I write, but I take pride in calling things as I see them.
   When I head out on the road, it is second nature planning out road trips. I know how to regiment my day to ensure I am hitting the highway at the right time to arrive in the city I will be covering a game in at a punctual moment. There is a comfort level in going through that process of hitting the road due to the fact I have done it tonnes of times before.
Hanging out with Emma Manson, left, after covering a WHL game.
    I also take pride in trying to represent myself well when I am in another league centre. I try to be personable as possible to others when I am on the road.
    In my mind, I always feel I am going to give the readers something special to check out when I write stories, take pictures and layout the entire package.
    When I was putting together my post for my top memories of 2018, I found myself looking back at the pieces I produced while covering the Memorial Cup held last May in Regina. My best memories of the event involve renewing ties with the large number of friends I have made covering the sport.
    Still, I actually impressed myself when I checked out the pieces I produced.
    I don’t want to sound egotistical, but I really did think to myself, “Wow! I did a lot of good work at this event.”
    I have also formed so many great relationships on that circuit, and it does make me feel good renewing those relationships.
    Day in and day out, I can still function as well working in media like I did before I knew I was dealing with issues dealing with anxiety.
The end of a WHL game night at the SaskTel Centre at home in Saskatoon.
    Since moving to Saskatoon in the summer of 2014, I have engaged in various contract opportunities to supplement my media work. I feel I have always adapted well to any contract opportunity I have taken up.
    I still do regular life activities like everyone else like gassing up my car, working out, going to movies or going out to a nice dinner.
    When you have challenges with mental health, it doesn’t mean you are constantly rolled up into a ball and crying.
    It is still possible for people to be great, excel and do special things even when they face mental health challenges.

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to My Bell Let’s Talk post from last year called “Being content can become a mental health challenge” can be round right here. A piece from 2017 called “Recognizing and respecting triggers is key for mental health” can be found right here. A piece from 2016 called “Feeling connected calms the mental health seas” can be found right here. A piece called “My Mental Health Story” can be found here. Another post I like that I wrote in February of 2015 about my mental health journey call “Huskies hockey was good for me” can be found here.
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