Today, I am taking a break from True Blue, for a mental health day. Not a day for myself, but a day to remember a life taken way too soon and to ignite the discussion about the importance of mental health. The world needs to come together to erase the stigma surrounding mental health and raise awareness instead.
Rick Rypien fought his demons on & off the ice. Sadly he lost his battle BUT through his life, an awareness for mental health has begun through Mind Check.
“Keep your gloves on kid, you don’t have to fight anymore.” When news broke about the death of Rick Rypien, Canucks fans were shaken to the core. Three years have gone by since we lost Rick Rypien and some days, it still feels like yesterday. Rick Rypien encompassed what it meant to have the heart and soul of a Canuck every single time he was on the ice and off the ice when he gave his time to the teams charities. His heart for the game and life was so big, and the hole left by his absence will forever be felt. Sometimes those who shine the brightest, with the biggest hearts are overwhelmed by the darkness. PLEASE, if anyone you know is suffering or you feel like the darkness is too much…PLEASE know that YOUR LIFE MATTERS, and there are more people than you know who care about you. Asking for help might be the hardest thing you do but may also be the best, and remember, YOU ARE STRONGER than you even know.
The truth is, that there are no limits on who can be and who is affected by mental illness every day. It is not our place to judge or shame anyone who suffers from mental illness. Why do we even feel compelled to make judgements of any kind? Every single person is susceptible to the possibility of suffering some type of mental illness. I read an article the other day that poignantly reminded all, that the BRAIN is an ORGAN just as our hearts, lungs and livers are organs and our brains are in need of just as much care to lead a healthy life. Mental health is just as important as our physical health.
In January 2012, Mind Check launched their ONE VOICE campaign, and invited others to take the following pledge:
Today, I take the pledge once more. I know that is NOT a choice. It’s NOT a weakness, self-inflicted or a result of not trying. Sometimes you can’t just get over it, it won’t just go away. Pretending it isn’t happening doesn’t help. Talking about it does. Getting support early can make the difference. Helping someone you care about is NOT a burden. I pledge to learn the signs. I will not judge. I will have compassion. I will reach out, listen, talk, help and find help. My name is Sarah Laug. I will NOT stay silent. Will you also take the pledge?
If any of you suffer from depression, or mental illness of any kind, please remember that you are NOT alone. You may not know it yet, but there are more people than you even know who care about you and you are stronger than you think. Asking for help IS a strength, not a weakness. It may be the hardest thing for you to do, but it could also be the best thing that you do for yourself. YOUR LIFE MATTERS. If you ever need someone to talk to, please know that there is always someone willing to listen, including THIS kid. Talking about it helps and while I don’t promise to have all the answers, I do promise that I will listen without judgement.
Rick Rypien left us far too soon, but he left us some words of wisdom: “Believe in yourself. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. You just have to believe in yourself and if you want it bad enough, YOU CAN DO IT.” We still miss you Ryp, thank-you for sharing your heart with the world. Thank-you Kevin Bieksa, the Vancouver Canucks and everyone at Mind Check for helping to raise awareness about the importance of mental health.
As always, until next time, nuck said.