Canadian Ice hockey goalie shares her struggles and survival through mental illness to help others in their journey to become mentally fit
Transcending Sport is hosted by Chris Stafford
Podcast length: 43 mins
Kendra Fisher is a Canadian ice hockey goalie and inline hockey player .although her story today is not so much about her successes as a professional athlete as the mental illness that changed the course of her career. As a young player she achieved considerable success and was at the point of trying out for the Canadian team when the physical symptoms stopped her in her tracks. She was eventually diagnosed with a Severe Anxiety Disorder, Severe Panic Attacks, Depression and Agoraphobia which were to change her forever. She was forced to leave the national program and put her health first, which took years of treatment and adjustment to learn to live with her mental illness. Kendra has reached a point where she has the tools to manage her conditions and is in a position to help others through motivational speaking and her website Mentally Fit.
Complete transcript of this episode:
Chris Stafford: [00:00:00] My guest today is Canadian ice hockey goalie and inline hockey player Kendra Fisher. Her story today is not so much about her successes as a professional athlete as the mental illness that changed the course of her career as a young player. She achieved considerable success and was at the point of trying out for the Canadian team when her symptoms manifested and stopped in her tracks. She was eventually diagnosed with severe anxiety disorder severe panic attacks depression and Agoraphobia which were to change her forever. She was forced to leave the national program and put her health first which took years of treatment and adjustment to learn to live with her mental illness. Kendra has reached a point where she has the tools to manage her conditions and is in a position to help others through motivational speaking and her web site Mentally Fit. Kendra welcome to the program.
Kendra Fisher: [00:00:56] Hi thanks so much for having me.
[00:00:57] Well it’s an important topic. We of course cover as much as we can here at WiSP Sports to bring to light the issues that face women in sport, not least of all mental health issues. And you have had your own experiences of course that have brought you out in a way to share that with the wider community in groups with your public speaking. Of course this is very important and we want to talk about what you’re doing now with Mentally Fit and everything else that you’re doing these days. But let’s start with a little bit of background Kendra as to how it manifested in you as a professional athlete and how it impacted you.
[00:01:36] Well I guess tenfold is the answer. I yeah I was diagnosed late. I kind of got into my into my sport about being ice hockey at the time and I was very successful. I was playing at a high level I’d represent a Team Ontario. I was a carded member of Team Canada hockey program and rate kind of at the brink of getting to wear that red and white jersey with with my name on the back. I started just feeling off. And I remember back then I didn’t know the language I didn’t have the education I didn’t know governmental all of us. And the way it started it was originally you know I thought I had a heart problem and that there was something wrong with my stomach. And and by the time I was done and my doctor had sent me to every specialist you could imagine. And everybody just told me how healthy I was. And it certainly didn’t match what I was feeling. And unfortunately I was attending a Team Canada camp in Calgary. And everything just kind of came to a head. I got to a point where I just couldn’t fight how I was feeling anymore and I approached the coaches of Team Canada and tried to explain it again. It seemed weird trying to explain what I didn’t have a diagnosis for. But at that point it was just I felt like I was dying. I just I I couldn’t even remember how to breathe comfortably anymore. And I knew I needed help.
[00:03:08] And the day I told the coaches of Team Canada that their response to me was would it help I need to know I’d made the team. They they had selected me from that try out already and they had known that they they wanted me to move forward with Team Canada and it is probably one of the most memorable days of my life because the answer was No. At that point knowing that I had reached my dream that I had achieved everything I had worked for my whole life. It didn’t it didn’t measure up I couldn’t I couldn’t find it in me to keep going. And that day I actually left Canada I flew home to Toronto from the camp in Calgary and within the next couple of weeks they had a diagnosis of generalized anxiety severe panic agoraphobia OCD and clinical depression. And the journey took a very very big turn.
[00:04:03] At what age were you then Kendra would have been.
1999 and I would have graduated high school the year before I was diagnosed. My math skills are lovely 19 or 20.
[00:04:16] But as a child did you have any symptoms were your parents aware of anything untoward that they could now add the language to or help you.
[00:04:28] Absolutely. I am often I guess discouraged by how little we knew only because I know now the benefit is of preventative measures and an early intervention. But when I think back now and I’ve obviously had plenty of time to get myself through this exercise. Yeah I mean this could have been identified as early as four and five years old. Usually just with regards to my behavior my thoughts. Things I would avoid things that I would become obsessively focused on whether it was death whether it was losing my parents the fear of staying away from my family.
[00:05:12] Just just thoughts that weren’t necessarily healthy or or not necessarily normal. I mean kids are exposed to fears early but they manifest it very differently for me and they became things that controlled a lot of my behaviors.
[00:05:27] And knowing now what I do about disordered behavior absolutely it was very young.
[00:05:34] And in terms of how Of course you know the athletes and the personality are one and the same but sometimes we can separate them. And your performance of course as an athlete was something you might have been able to set aside as an athlete not in terms of the mental application. Yes. In your case of course all of these things were merging together to a critical mass at a critical point in your career. And it’s interesting that you got to that tipping point where even making the team as you say your dreams come true that was not enough because of what was going on chemically I suppose in in in in in your in your body your whole system. Nothing could stop that tide.
[00:06:13] It was somewhat of a perfect storm for me.
[00:06:15] I had gone through a lot of different measures to try to self-manage what I was dealing with not knowing what I was dealing with it had become this frustration of going to a heart specialist and having them tell me that feeling you have like you’re having a heart attack it’s not physical. So you’re fine you know going through this stage of not being able to get out and and just having such bad stomach pain all the time and going to a gastrointestinal specialist having them tell me everything is fine.
[00:06:50] And it became this this constant feeling of almost needing to prove them right. Well if they tell me I’m fine then nothing’s wrong. So let’s push through that. And the more I pushed through it the the weaker I got the harder it got to be to hide that I wasn’t OK. And and I tried I tried to hide it. I mean this wasn’t something that I ever shared with others. And then I turned to less positive and less effective ways trying to cope with it. And I started partying a bit. And you’d get that temporary relief. You know while I’m out with my friends and I have a few drinks I don’t seem to find this or that. And that it becomes cyclical in that sense. Well I mean as you as you learn unfortunately with mental illness alcohol or any other substance about matter they’re not beneficial they’re depressants. They only amplify what you’re already dealing with.
[00:07:52] So any means I had to to sell coke. Nothing positive and nothing positive came of it. By the time I got to the try outs in Calgary I would say probably having felt this way all summer and just not being able to identify anything. I was so lost. It was s the loss failing to arrive at a diagnosis. Was the loss of not being able to explain to anybody and wanting to hide from everybody that I wasn’t at my best. I mean I met Team Canada. It’s not as though I could let my coaches know I was offer or wanted my teammates and that and I said some of my competition other goal is at the camp I didn’t want anybody to know that I was not my best and I just I kept bearing it very very and it and I just I got to a point I couldn’t do it anymore.
[00:08:42] I knew that I was at a place that there was no possibility I could hide it. And and to me that was that was the moment that felt like defeat and it’s burying that shame for so long.
[00:08:55] I would imagine Kendra when you don’t have to have the confidence and be at that critical point where you have to address it you have to confront it head on and get some help. So talk about how then that you transition towards some positive help and used to support that you had around you in order to do that and not lose face as it were as an athlete not just a person but as an athlete who was coming to the point of a career where you know she was getting to where she absolutely wanted to be and the future was bright so to speak. But that must have been very very difficult separating the two. Talk about how you moved up the ladder and your negative turned to a positive.
[00:09:39] Very unwillingly. It would be I think if you spoke to any of my doctors or psychologists I was an easy I. I maintain that the mentalities are everything. And I’ll tell you when it started to come out that there was a suspected mental illness. I was not a willing patient. I was a teen candidate. Is that called up. Yeah. Or an athlete take it take your pick. I was yeah yeah. I was superwoman. I could play and I could stand in front of talks right at my head. But they wanted to tell me I was anxious and depressed and I just it was laughable to me it didn’t make any sense. And it was gratefully it was Team Canada actually who set me up for an appointment with a sports psychologist and when I left camp that year within five days they had called me and said we have an appointment for you. And at that point I mean not that I thought I needed a psychologist. Not that I thought I needed any anything in that realm of support. But to me it was the politics of it. Team Canada calls you and says five days after you’ve walked away we want you to go do this. My only thought was This is what I have to do to get back. This is what I have to do for that to be OK and for that to have me. And you know on the side I’ll actually go figure out what’s really wrong. But go disappointing for them.
[00:11:10] And it turned out I mean I spent my first two weeks with my psychologist just having horribly awkward staring contest. I didn’t I didn’t know why I was there I didn’t want to be there I didn’t need to talk about my feelings. Nothing dramatic had happened that that in my understanding of psychology that would have landed me there. And so I pushed I pushed back I pushed away I came up with some excuse some story that I thought well let’s talk about this and she’ll send me on my way and I did and did two weeks of really intense therapy and I was cured. I had you know I think I’d walked away. And that it just kept getting worse.
[00:11:54] You flipped a switch.
[00:11:55] I did. I just I I thought I had her convinced I was fine. I thought she could keep it I was fine. A couple of parents told them I was fine.
[00:12:05] And then I just isolated more and more and I got to a point where it was actually January 3rd. I remember the date and I called my house and my parents answered the phone and I the only words I heard come out of my mouth were I’m not going to be here tomorrow. I just I can’t do this anymore. And I guess that was the bottom that was that moment of I didn’t think it was going any lower but it did. And unfortunately it turns out you can’t make that comment to your parents that are staunch. And my my mother made her way from her hometown to Toronto. Probably a lot faster than she should have. And that day I was sitting in front of a doctor and that was the day I started to really understand what it was that I had to deal with. And I’d like to say that you know somebody told me Well this is what you’re living with this is what you need to do to make it better. But unfortunately with mental illness one the resource it’s just they’re not there yet. And to again I was ashamed I was embarrassed. I felt like somebody had just sentenced me and I wouldn’t let anybody know this. I I spent the first five years living with mental illness and nobody had a clue what was wrong with me. I dropped out of school like it didn’t go to work anymore. The only thing I managed to do was play hockey and only one of the people on my team had any idea what I was living with and that was simply self-preservation.
[00:13:35] I needed to know that somebody was going to check in on me every once in a while. But other than that I didn’t leave my apartment for the better part of five years. And I didn’t get to that place until five years later when I realized I had a choice to make. I could either give up because I wasn’t willing to keep going like that or I could find a way to live with it. And so I spent the next five years really mastering what there is of a mental health system and learning where all the resources are and learning what my support could be.
[00:14:13] And and learning about the things I could do to help myself. I mean unfortunately it is not too onerous. It’s not as though there’s a medication that exists that just makes it go away but it can get you to a place where you can learn to do a lot more to help yourself as well. And and my recovery it’s a combination of all of those things. It’s medication every psychologist It’s cognitive behavioral therapy and any other therapy they want to throw. It’s physical activity it’s nutrition it’s getting enough sleep it’s doing all the right things and applying mindfulness and yoga. And and it’s not an easy regimen but it’s it’s something that I’ve gotten to a place where you heard me after 10 years I’d gotten to a place where I felt good and shockingly still after 10 years that had become a positive for me. It had. It had become a positive. That now that I knew how to live with it and now that I felt good again I could get on with my life. Nobody needed to know and that was the most positive thing for me. I think the thing I was most proud of was I felt good. I felt healthy and I had managed to hide it and I continued that way. I think the word I spent you know use to describe myself the most after over 10 years was pathetic. That’s that’s what mental illness made me feel. And I wasn’t willing to share that. That wasn’t something that I was going to let anybody know until 2010.
[00:15:46] I had I had been sitting at the Ont.Trauma Talk Association head office and our director walked in and put a piece of paper in front of me and that piece of paper was memorial for a 14 year old girl who had gone home to her parents basement and hung herself and her mother found her. And I just remember at that moment thinking I’m part of the problem. I’m part of the reason that people don’t feel safe asking for help. And part of the reason that people don’t understand that that we can live with this and we can get better and we can we can be healthy and we can help others. And at that moment I just I I vowed to make it a positive. And I did. I mean it’s something that I think ironically I guess because of my support and because of the characteristics that I that I possess because of my athletics I was able to turn it around and I was able to use it as something that helped me survive helped me get through it.
[00:16:53] Yeah that was exactly what I was coming to Kendra I was thinking you know we told you about what we could call being stubborn or being a professional athlete it’s that will to win. Yeah. That inner fight that you must have had which even in your darkest moments was there. Yeah. Yeah. You just had to find it again.
[00:17:11] It was and it was. I mean it’s funny because people always say or ask me you know how did you manage to keep playing hockey at that level. I mean I was playing in the Canadian women’s hockey league it’s not as though I had stepped down. I was still playing with all the Olympians. I was still playing with all of my teammates. But for me it was kind of that was my place of mindfulness in those moments. That was the place where you know everybody assumed well that would be such great pressure on yourself. And sure we put pressure on ourselves and yes I’m a goalie. So there’s a unique kind of stress that comes with that. But at the same time that was the part of my life that came easy. That was a part of my life that felt like going through the motion that was a part of my life that I didn’t have time to focus on what I was struggling with internally because I was I was so trained and I was so practiced at being focused on what I was doing that I was able to use those few hours that I was playing hockey.
[00:18:13] And my my escape from what I was working with and only once I realized that I could apply that same level of focus that I could apply that same determination to learn about mental health and to learn about what effects it had in my body and to recognize when those triggers were happening and when those those moments were happening that I realized that I could actually make a positive of all of it.
[00:18:41] I mean I’ve been asked would you turn back time now that you know how to live with it. You wish you could turn back and go back in.
[00:18:48] And I’ll tell you what the only reason that I wish I had played in the Olympics is because it would have given me a bigger platform because I honestly do believe that this happened for a reason. I’m somebody who who is able to talk about this and able to share this journey with others. And in a way I feel as though we can create a community and a support system that really enables us to grow stronger in this. And I would trade it for anything.
[00:19:20] Well you certainly have done all of that. It really is heartening to to hear your story and how you’ve come through this and how you’ve really turned it into helping other people as well. So let’s talk about mentally fit. Don’t call me because you spend all the time doing public speaking. How and how. How did you come to the point we decided OK this is going to be a business in of itself.
[00:19:43] Well to be honest with you mentally fit isn’t so much of a business as it is just a moment. I have one of those kind of a personal as I was at an event a psychology event it would be and I had the opportunity to hear a gentleman by the name of Dr. Peter Jensen speak here. The time that I heard him speak actually was working in sports psychology capacity with Team Canada and I remember after I heard him speak just walking up to him and I was almost angry. I just had this internal moment of where were you 10 years ago when I needed you to be with Team Canada because you would have changed everything if I had been able to hear this then.
[00:20:25] Don’t get me wrong I’m blessed to have a brilliant sports psychologist myself. So. But he just had some some points that really clicked with me and one of the points he was talking about was mental fitness and and how we we don’t spend any time training our minds. We don’t spend enough time making that connect between mind and body. And we have this ability to separate them as though they’re their own entities. And I don’t believe they are. I just you know as somebody who has dealt with spending so much time just focused on that piece of mental health I can attest to every physical aspect that comes with that. My mental health affects my physical health. Or that you know breaking an arm more than than getting a shot in a place where the pad just wasn’t in the way my my mental health can affect my body in ways that are terrifying and and vice versa. I mean our physical how you can’t tell me that somebody is feeling physical pain for a prolonged period of time has the ability to then maintain their mental stability that that is positive that is healthy that feels good. And we’ve gotten away from it and have such a split view on health and it’s got to go. And he really kind of pointed that out to me and that was where the term mentally fit came. But I walked up to him that day and I said you know what I’m stealing this I’m going to think mentally fit and I’m going to make people understand the value and the relationship between fitness and adventure.
[00:22:15] And he looked up and he said you know Kendra I’ve been trying for years so please do take it take it and own it and Mentally Fit started as just kind of a hashtag that that I put out there. And it really encompassed my belief that you know we really just need to understand self-care and wellness that we need to understand that it’s all the same thing going for a run in the morning. We think we’re doing it for our hearts. We think we’re doing it for our cardiovascular system. But if I told you the effect of them on mental health and and there’s research and studies backing this it’s just it’s extraordinary. You look at nutrition. I mean I don’t eat wheat. It’s not because I’m weak. I don’t have an allergy it’s not gluten intolerance. We directly affects my depression when I eat wheat. My moods are worse. Nutrition has an effect on it. There’s just so many different aspects of what we believe to be directly attributed to physical health that affect her mental health. And that was kind of the birth of mentally fit and the idea that we can be mentally fit. We can get to a place where we can train ourselves and we can we can help ourselves and we can draw and support psychologists talk therapy different types of therapies cognitive behavioral therapy mindfulness meditation. You know there’s just so many facets that we can pull from to kind of make this inclusive holistic approach of being mentally fit. And that was kind of where that that came from.
[00:23:48] And now I mean Mentally Fit exists to be a community and the web site unfortunately is newer that I want it to be because there’s so much information to be added to it. And it’s you know it will be there. But it exists as a community a place where people can go share their stories a place where you know we can we can be pulled into communities that don’t necessarily have the resources. And there’s a lot of that unfortunately I can I can speak for Canada quite a bit about the U.S. as well and we’re not there yet. We don’t have enough resources. And I’m a firm believer in and developing a system where we need to start helping each other from the ground up while you know the government is trying to develop the the infrastructure from the top down. And I think we’re going to be a lot quicker to meet in the middle if we if we really take on that approach and mentally fit exists for that it takes the ground up approach of how can we form support systems and communities and help people understand how to access resources better and more effectively while we’re waiting for that infrastructure to be in place. So I guess more so than a business.
[00:25:04] Mentally it’s really it’s there to inspire a community that will really start to understand how much stronger we can be together and having access to resources as well as you say is important and the kind of things that were not there when this all came to a head for you. And and in terms of the web site how can people get involved and find reasonable resources then and in the social media as well. Well what would you like people to do in response to this Kendra?
[00:25:35] Again I mean you know we say the resources weren’t there when I was diagnosed. Unfortunately the resources still aren’t where we need them to be. We have a lot of great silos. We have a lot of great independent hospitals and facilities and therapists. But a lot of the time negotiating those can be difficult. And I mean we’ve actually just developed somewhat of a comprehensive list provincially to begin with in Canada of some of the big names and some of the people that are the main players just to help people in crisis get to that help obediently. What I would love to develop and I’m willing to as a result of this conversation if there’s a need for it is the ability for smaller organizations and other community groups to identify themselves to me. And I’m happy to create that mapping on my website just to draw attention to them. I mean I’m not trying to do the work other people are already good at. I just want to be able to identify them for people who come to me asking for help. I travel a lot to speak and and I I sadly at the end of every presentation have a list or a line up you know quite a few people long with people with experience and people in crisis or people just just really struggling to figure out where to reach out next.
[00:27:03] And if we could identify all of the resources and all of the smaller communities and at the centers I’d be happy to highlight them on my web site just to be able to give that information to others and again start building bridges between those silos start creating a system that that goes coast to coast in every country because that’s that’s how we’re going to get any type of handle on this crisis.
[00:27:28] And it is a crisis. I mean statistically right now I do a lot of work in schools and I can tell you statistically since I started speaking in 2010 the suicide rate within the age group of ages 10 to 14 has increased 200 percent.
[00:27:44] And there a lot of reasons for that.
[00:27:47] And I I just I love to be a part of the education piece and love to be able to share my journey and help others understand things that might be able to help them but no one person is going to solve this alone. We need to come together.
[00:28:02] I also want to just touch on the one thing the critics and of course when anyone is going through any of this at any stage in this life because it doesn’t go away as you say is the support structure. Yes. It’s coming to terms with it and not being so embarrassed and ashamed that they can’t share it with the family or the partner or whoever it may be the the people that matter around them and the people who loved them. Yeah that connects obviously. Some times as well very often is a bridge that’s very hard for them to cross. Just talk through your scenario as much as you care to share with us and why it’s important to connect and communicate.
[00:28:44] I mean I’m very proactive now I’m very fortunate that I’ve gotten to a place where quite frankly if somebody has anything negative to say to me because of what I live with then I just don’t have the energy to have that my life and that it was a big step it took some working up to at the same time I jumped in with both feet. I mean it wasn’t as though I just kind of quietly started telling people I jumped right into telling hundreds of people and that just kind of took off on me.
[00:29:16] And unfortunately for a lot of people that’s not going to be their story or fortunately there’s nothing that comes with living with mental illness or or any experience in life that requires you to become an advocate.
[00:29:29] There is no expectation there. And it’s what you’re comfortable with. I left.
[00:29:34] I’ve been given the opportunity to be a voice for myself but from what I’ve heard also perhaps offer a voice to some people who don’t feel as though that that’s something that they could take on. That being said I can make this statement wholeheartedly with 100 percent conviction and belief and that is this is never easier alone.
[00:29:58] There is no part of living with illness that is easier alone. Yes the segment’s stigma still exists and we’re moving. We’re getting so much better. You know programs like Let’s talk in Canada and other nations have really really really opened the ability to communicate and and to eliminate some of that shame that comes with it and we still have a long ways to go. But that being said for me personally my support system is I’ve come to realize that it’s strength in numbers. I mean I I like that people know that I live with now. I like it because people hold me accountable. And sometimes when you’re dealing with mental illness you might not even realize that you’re starting to show signs of going through you know some level of instability with what you’re living with. For me I have a psychologist I’m I’m an anomaly my psychologist has gratefully been my psychologist since the beginning and that’s a rarity but I found a relationship with my psychologist that really works for me. Talk therapy is something that I strongly advocate for. I think that it’s so important on every level and that doesn’t mean it’s going to look like a psychologist for everybody. Sometimes it’s peer support sometimes it’s you know a teacher a counselor. To me I don’t I don’t put an emphasis on who it is it’s that you’re talking it’s that you’re not going to it alone that you’re not isolating yourself. So to me I have my psychologist my immediate family although my extended family know my wife not only knows but she herself lives with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.
[00:31:46] So as you can imagine we’re a bit of a reality TV show around here. We we really are pretty tough on each other about staying in recovery. We were quick to identify as if one another seems to be getting complacent in recovery. And I mean for me complacency would be not going to the gym or not working out and and not taking the time to have those mindful moments whether it be through yoga meditation. If I started to you know if I’ve got a busy week of speaking and I start visiting the drive through more than I should be she’ll be the first to call me on it. And it’s having somebody really know what recovery looks like to you. The things that they know you need to do to stay healthy and when they see you getting away from those things then having the permission I guess to really put you in your place because I know that that life gets busy and unfortunately with mental health it’s the first to go. People don’t people don’t make the same concessions for themselves what they do for others. We’re always quick to run out and take care of everybody else or make sure we hold the expectations of everybody else and the first thing that we lose track of are the things that we need to do for ourselves.
[00:33:01] And so I mean having for me my wife is is it’s it’s just paramount for me because she’s somebody who sees when I’m behaving in a way that isn’t going to hurt me in the short run but in the long run if I don’t smarten up it will in addition to that for me personally I have somebody who trains me a physical trainer simply because to me it was putting in another level of accountability. It was making sure that it’s not just up to me and it’s not only affecting my schedule if I don’t go work out that day it’s going to cost me money. So it’s not something I would give up and to at somebody else’s time that I that I have to respect and be appreciative of. And that also forces me to kind of make sure that I fit that into my day. And for me it’s just kind of making sure you put in little checks like that everywhere. For me it’s making sure that the supports you do put in place are people who who will hold you accountable and will remind you every day that you’re not alone and it’s OK to make that statement it’s OK if I if I turn to them one day and say look I’m having a rough day. You know I just I I don’t need you to fix it I just need somebody else to know that. Today’s today’s tough and I don’t want to be the only one that knows that. And even that at this point it just has such a power to it. And I think that the larger our support network is whatever that needs to look like for individuals the better off we are.
[00:34:36] And in terms of your sports interest in participation where does that fit into your life now Kendra?
I took on a new adventure.
[00:34:47] I’ve always been a competitive athlete. I played ball baseball and basketball competitively for my my lifetime.
[00:34:55] I also used to be a competitive tennis player so I stay active. I mean I. Anytime anybody’s got a game on the go I I want to play. I after I left here.
[00:35:07] Canada’s hockey program I actually had an opportunity. I guess it would have been around 2010 would have been the first time where a lot of the girls I played hockey with gratefully were in need of a goalie. They they played for Team Canada’s inline hockey team and their goal the previous two worlds had unfortunately injured her knee and they needed a goalie on short notice. And as it happens at the time because of my my recovery process I still wasn’t working full time and I was at school so I was I was an option and I guess I didn’t think I was a horrible goalie. So I picked up the sport and learned it in a hurry and figured out how to be an inline goaltender at about two weeks and had the chance to go play worlds in Prague again. I just remember that that occasion just being such a victory for me on so many levels. I remember I remember walking down the street in Prague and this was having not been able to be alone for however many years. And even somebody who was at arm’s length and here was on the other side of the world by me by myself in all essence and and realized that I was OK. And at the same time you know a world competition where the team Canada jersey with my name on the back there with such a great group of girls it just it became the new passion of my life. And I fortunately I’m still a member of Team Canada. My hockey program. So yeah that’s that that gets most of my focus athletically now.
[00:36:47] Wonderful. Well obviously you are leading a very busy life. You said to me that you didn’t know where the week began because one merges into the other. So what is a typical day like for you these is such a thing as a typical day. But we know when you work out, we know that.
[00:37:02] Well typical day for me from the recovery standpoint it includes a minimum of a half hour work a day whether it’s with my trainer or just some cardio and.
[00:37:14] And on days that I really don’t want to do that don’t work. It can be as simple as going for a 30 minute walk it’s just making sure I get out and be active. I do my best to eat healthy. I have a very very strong passion for ice cream so I try to keep it healthy at least 80 percent of the time. I might have to make sure I build in some time for mindfulness. I oftentimes wear yoga for that. Other times advice. I know I’ve got a really busy day and I’m not going to have time that it can be as simple as grabbing a coffee and going down by the waterfront just to do a crossword for 20 minutes just something that gives my mind some time to kind of recharge. And I just find the impact and that is just so great for me. I do take medication. I’m on a very small dose of medication. And when people ask me this it’s you know well for and against meds for me meds aren’t my cure. Meds aren’t my recovery but they are something that controls the chemicals in my brain that biologically are responding differently for me. And they do it just enough that it gives me a chance to to really grasp and understand and apply all of the other things that I do to stay in recovery. I don’t both fortunately and fortunately see my psychologist very often anymore.
[00:38:40] I don’t meet her very often but she certainly on speed dial and if I’m ever in a moment where I string together a few bad days and need a good reminder of where I need to be focused I certainly am quick to call her. I have to make sure I get a good night’s sleep. I make sure I stay away from any of the negative coping skills. I don’t drink. I don’t take pleasure in anything recreational that way. And I just I yeah I make sure that I kind of check in with the people I love then and make sure we’re all kind of moving in the right direction. On the flip side professionally as you mentioned I’m a professional speaker and this is my gosh and this is what I focus on and what I do. I also do a lot of one on one work with a variety of people students parents teachers a lot of athletes as you can imagine as well I do a lot of work with first responders and those that are dealing with PTSD or the stresses from work that manifest quite simply the same as mental illness and a lot of the coping tools and recovery tools are quite synonymous there.
[00:39:56] So it’s a place I found myself kind of passionate. And so in the past year actually went through my schooling to become a firefighter. So I’ve got my my applications there I’ve got all my accreditation and licensing for firefighting now. And I really hope to be able to kind of jump into that space with a really strong focus on the house because I think it’s an area that’s quite like athletics.
[00:40:28] We have this expectation of first responders and athletes that they’re super here. They’re they’re supposed to be able to do it all. And sometimes we just forget that really really simple piece which is we’re all human and no matter what we train for no matter what we’re able to handle from a work capacity professional capacity scorning capacity any capacity when it comes down to it. We’re all people and we’re all going to be affected. And it’s when we start to understand that sharing those experiences isn’t a bad thing. It keeps us proactively keeps us preventative. And so that’s that’s kind of where I’m at now we do a lot of professional speaking.
[00:41:11] I do some contract work for different individuals that have a business background and actively pursuing a career as a firefighter which I think will well timed quite nicely with everything else I’m dealing.
[00:41:25] Yes I was going to say very well rounded life you’ve got there. Yeah it’s been a fascinating story of course. I mean in terms of its importance to our audience who have suffered or are suffering and in a similar way or in any aspect of mental health because these are messages that we want to convey and resources of course information guidance and support.
[00:41:51] So I really appreciate you taking the time to come on the program and share it with us Kendra. It was a very good conversation and we really appreciate it.
It’s absolutely my pleasure.