The Rick Rypien tragedy and how to learn from it

Dean Belanger
August 16 2011 07:17PM

 

 

Last night I received a call from my Brother in law asking me if I had heard about Rick Rypien, which I had not. For some reason I had no desire to be on the computer last night and instead I went to the gym and then flicked between baseball and football. When I received the news, a shot of fear went through me that I can’t describe. I had never met the player, honestly I wouldn’t know him if had passed him on the street. No the reason for my discomfort had nothing to do with him really, and more to do with me…

 
First off let me say I have no first hand knowledge of the Rypien story and there is plenty of speculation as to how and why. There are many stories to be found today on the Al Gore that would do a better job talking about the specifics. Here and here for example. Depression and sports is not a new thing, talking about it certainly is. Canada’s greatest Olympian Clara Hughes has recently done some great work raising awareness: http://www.clara-hughes.com/news/bell-ceo-launches-50-million-mental-health-initiative
 
 
When I was younger I didn’t understand depression. Like many things in life, as you get older you learn and digest new experiences. For the last year depression has affected my life. I have become the key support person for someone very close to me and I’ve learned more about depression, ADD, ADHD, and thyroid issues than I ever imagined. The one feeling you can’t shake is fear; you never know what you are going to get on the other side of the phone when it rings. For those of you who are in a similar situation, you know exactly what I’m talking about. You just never get comfortable, which for me is odd because I’m an optimist by nature.
 
The reason for my story is this. If you are living with a person, know a person who you think is depressed, or are depressed yourself – GET HELP BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE. There are signs, many signs. Mood swings, lack of energy, self medication (drug and alcohol abuse), erratic sleeping patterns, and several others. (See the first link below for a comprehensive list) We live in a world where information is available at the push of a button. Many of us have great benefit packages at work that usually include employee assistance help lines. When is that last time you used that? Never? Probably and you are paying for that benefit so take advantage of the opportunity.
 
My only advice to give is this. You can’t solve their problem. You alone can’t change a person. Also, you can’t do all the work either. You have to convince them that they need help and THEY have to get the help. Trust me, there is a difference. Assist them in finding the right person to talk to. Once they find a person they trust they can begin to open up and hopefully start to build the tools to deal with their feelings and emotions. In some ways it’s like dealing with drug or alcohol abuse. A person will only change if they buy into it.
 
To all the beautiful people out there who are in pain…gone are the days of suffering in silence. If you are feeling down, ask for help. Get help. You are not weak; you just don’t have the skills (yet) to deal with how you feel, to deal with your emotions. There is help out there for you. All you have to do is ask. There can be a light at the end of that dark, dark tunnel.
 
 
Here are a couple of pages to help you start your journey:

 

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Dean has partied at Portage and Main (Bombers 1984,88,90) and cried (Jets rally 1995). He fondly remembers seeing Selanne's first goal, when Ellett scored in overtime, and not so fondly when they drafted Sergei Bautin. Is also a fan of the NFL Vikings and Raiders, the Toronto Blue Jays, the Oilers, and loves MMA. Participates in the best hockey pool ever and is addicted to Fantasy Football. He also has a weird fascination with the Bearcats. You can follow him on Twitter @bearcats_dean
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#1 michael
August 16 2011, 09:09PM
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All the best to the family. Tough day for all hockey fans across this country. The players are the reason we love the game. If not for thier sacrifices we wouldn't have the passion that we do across this great country. Condolences to his parents and family. OilersNation will miss him on the ice for the Jets.

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#2 Tim Mushey
August 16 2011, 11:54PM
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Very powerful post Dean! Thanks for bringing light to this very sad situation regarding the passing of Rick Rypien. Thanks as well for pushing for more awareness of this for regular people who are not in the limelight of professional sports.

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#3 Grienk
August 17 2011, 06:28AM
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When you see a guy in the NHL with depression, you know it can be found in every walk of life.

Thanks for sharing your story.

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