Kendra Fisher explains how her mental illness reached a critical phase but sport gave her a purpose and the will to live despite the daily struggle
mentallyfit is presented by Kendra Fisher
Podcast length: 11’58”
On this episode Kendra explains why she values sport so much and how it literally saved her life at a critical time in her illness and career. Kendra was forced to quit Team Canada’s ice hockey program due to a diagnosis of mental illness that covered the spectrum from depression, anxiety, severe panic attacks, OCD and agoraphobia. She reveals what her day to day life was like and the struggle she faced leaving the house and driving to the rink.
If you are suffering from mental illness and would like to contact Kendra please email in confidence to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The full transcript of this episode is below.
In case you missed it here is the link to episode 1 of mentallyfit
WiSP Sports Radio is the world’s largest network of podcasts for women’s sport with more than 700 episodes, 30 shows and a global audience of 1.5 million and is available on all major podcast players, such as iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify & Google Play.
Kendra’s website – http://mentallyfit.com/new/
RELATED: Kendra Fisher on Transcending Sport
[00:00:00] Hello and welcome to mentally set the podcast it discusses topics relating to mental health LGBTQ issues. I’m Kendra Fisher a Canadian ice hockey goalie.
[00:00:10] If you’re a new listener to the show you can hear the first episode at WiSPsports.com and which I discussed preparing for the holiday season and offer some advice on how to cope with what can be a really hard time of year. You can also find the full transcript on the show page under listen click on mentally fit. The show gives me the opportunity to share my experience with you and offer some advice on how to cope better because it’s important to know that you’re not alone and that you can develop the tools to call on when you need them. I spend a lot of time now giving talks on these subjects. On this episode I wanted to get into a bit on why I value sports so much and I guess the bold statement that I have made several times which is how sport saved my life. If you haven’t had a chance to hear much about me at this point I’m a past member. Team Canada’s hockey program that was forced to quit Team Canada due to a diagnosis of mental illness. My diagnosis. Kind of covered the spectrum a little bit from depression anxiety severe panic OCD agoraphobia and I remember back when I had just first been diagnosed and I was going through the motions of kind of reaching out and searching for resources which is often very difficult in this journey of living with mental illness. And as I was meeting with the doctors and the psychologists and fortunately my parents were there supporting me.
[00:01:44] One message got to be kind of very clear to me which was nobody was willing to just let me lay down and die. Nobody was willing to let me give up. And ironically that was the most frustrating news I could have received at that time. It was so hard just coping with that day to day. I guess what I would have considered to have been normal previously. Getting out of bed eating wanting to take a shower not being able to leave my apartment not wanting to see people just everything that seemed so second nature I guess up to that point had all of a sudden become just a journey for me and what had happened in that time period was pretty much I was I was told that I had to keep one commitment. That was what my direction was from my doctor and in that direction was very much supported by my parents and that was no matter what. It didn’t matter what it was going to be if I if I was too sick to work. That was spotted if I was too sick to go to school anymore. That was fine but what they told me was that I had to pick one commit. One thing that regardless of how sick I was I was going to keep in my schedule and at the time I chose hockey. I guess it seemed the easiest to me it was what came most second nature to me was what I felt I could continue doing and it was horrible.
[00:03:16] I remember my days back then where it would take me hours to convince myself to leave my apartment and when I would finally leave my apartment it would take me hours to get to whatever arena I was trying to travel to just because at that time my anxiety my panic were so bad that I couldn’t even get on a highway. I had to drive on side roads. I had to pull over probably 30 cars on the way to the arena just trying to regain my composure because I would be having panic attacks and the anxiety of being out of my apartment was so much an all in all it was just this horrible time in my hockey career even. But what it did was it forced me to have something in my life that I was committed to. It forced me to have accountability to something other than just myself. And as difficult as it was because my desire to hide what I was going through was so great it was something that now I recognize I can very much credit with being part of my recovery. I wasn’t able to do many of the things that I had I had previously enjoyed. I had no friends left in my life I avoided circumstances situations to people as much as I could but being forced to beyond the ice it forced me into a place that had always been somewhat cathartic for me and without even realizing that I would have to say that goaltending was probably my first kind of step into meditation and mindfulness because when I goaltending when I’m in that net I find that place where the rest of the world kind of disappears. And ultimately what I was able to do with what I had learned in sport and what I had learned in my position was to then transfer that.
[00:05:13] And when I started about learning more about coping mechanisms and cognitive behavioral therapy at meditation and mindfulness yoga I was able to kind of transfer those skills into learning those things to help me live with my mental image. And I started to find that I was finding those connections more and more in my recovery. I was able to realize that a lot of the skills that I had learned as an athlete the relationships that I had formed with teammates I guess the the drive the practice the desire to become the best athlete I could. All of the sudden when I started to get to a place where I was taking steps into my road to recovery I got really I kind of had the same mindset that same athlete mindset really kicked in for me and I got to a place where I was driven to practice my recovery I was driven to practice the coping tools and practice the things that I was being taught that could help my mental health and ultimately I have no doubt whatsoever that many of those skills that I had learned are part of the reason why I’ve been so successful in mastering the tools that I use to live in recovery with mental illness. And I take that a step further because I’ve often been asked if the I guess stress of my my position of my sport of being an elite athlete may maybe led to that anxiety maybe led to that panic and that ultimately and I’m so happy when people ask me that question because I can answer with such strength when I say absolutely not. Of course doing anything at a high level it comes with its challenges and it comes with it stresses but those ultimately weren’t my mental illness.
[00:07:10] They were nothing to do with my disordered behavior. And I think on the flip side I can wholeheartedly say that quite the opposite. Those those experiences and my journey to becoming an athlete especially at a high level ultimately gave me the foundation to start developing my coping skills. And I guess the other part that I want to touch on just on this conversation that is you don’t have to be an elite athlete to benefit playing sports at any level. It’s just such a positive impact on a person. You know there’s the biological side of what being active does for somebody and you can’t argue it as somebody who lives with anxiety and somebody who was with depression I’ve had a lot of time to learn about the biological and logical effects of exercise on my physical health and how it affects my mental health. And I can tell you that doing cardio staying active out there and just playing actually increases the chemicals in my body that helped me to cope better with my illness. And it’s absolutely part of my recovery now is to maintain some level of physical activity every day. And on the flipside the social environment that we often get into that sport even an individual sport even in sports where perhaps our social environment is our coaches or the people that we’re competing with. The ability to forge those relationships and to have those those I guess just built in a way that they come from a place of passion they come from such a shared space that they become just completely valuable tools that we can use to help build our support networks.
[00:09:02] And I think that this topic the reason I find it so important is because it’s something that everybody can do. It’s something everybody could take advantage of to help themselves. You don’t have to be the best at a sport. You don’t even have to be good at a sport. But if you can find it in you to join and to play and to have fun and ultimately at every level are such valuable you know just the confidence that comes with it and the tools that we end up learning without even realizing that we’re learning. I never got into hockey to learn mindfulness. I never got into goaltending to learn how to strategize and problem solved. But ultimately those are the things that I gained from that position. And I just feel like there’s such a powerful need to share especially with today’s youth and where we’re going and kind of getting away from being a more active society. And you know less involvement in sports that we really need to get that messaging out there. How important it is that you know we we look to sport and we look to physical activity to stay engaged. I guess that’s my messaging around this. And again one that I can proudly say you know I can I can 100 percent say that sport saved my life and I am so grateful for that. That’s all for this episode of mentallyfit.
[00:10:31] Please visit my website mentallyfit.com for more information resources and follow mentally fit on Twitter at mentally underscore it and on Instagram mentally fit. Make sure to follow with sports on all social media channels at work and for more conversation from around the world of women sports including articles video blogs podcast, visit wispsports.com. WiSP Sports Radio the largest podcast network for women sport in the world with over 700 episodes across 30 unique shows and a global audience of 1.5 million.
[00:11:07] You can listen on the website or subscribe on any podcast player such as iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify and Google Play. I’m Kendra Fisher and until next time, thanks so much for listening.