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For most, it isn't easy to talk about their battles with mental illness. But, several NHLers have spoken out about the topic over the last couple of years. The latest is 31-year-old Colin Wilson, an unrestricted free agent who is a former 7th overall draft pick of the Nashville Predators. In an article for The PLayer's Tribune, Wilson documents his struggles with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) which was first officially diagnosed by Nashville's team doctors.

"I remember in 2010, my rookie year, when Predators GM David Poile sat me down with assistant GM Paul Fenton, team psychologist Gary Solomon, and my parents and told me I had OCD. They had noticed after picking up on a preflight routine I’d go through at airports."

"Before a flight, I had things I needed to do. I had to clean up all the trash around our gate. Every single wrapper, piece of plastic, you name it. Into the trash. Then I had to be the last passenger on the plane, no matter what. Then, finally, I actually had to talk to the pilots. It didn’t have to be about anything specific, but I had to at least talk to them. After I did all that, I felt safe to fly."

Wilson also talked about trying and untying his skates so often that he would make his fingers bleed, and other symptoms related to his illness. He goes on to describe when he "hit bottom" while taking on the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup final in 2017 due to a combination of Xanax and Seroquel which he started to mix with alcohol.

"My brain blew up. I was a shell of the person I am today."

"It became so bad that I remember when we beat Anaheim to win the Western Conference finals, everyone on the team was, of course, really happy. But all I wanted to do was go home and bawl my eyes out. I was a complete emotional wreck. I felt like I hadn’t been playing my best. I felt like I hadn’t contributed enough to the success of the team and it was driving me insane."

After Nashville lost in the final and he was traded to Colorado, Wilson started to finally seek out real help for his condition. He found it in psychedelics.

"The word psychedelics might put people off, I get that — but I can’t stress enough how critical they were in my recovery. That experience showed me a completely different side of myself and gave me a deep sense of spirituality. It put me in touch with a part of me that I didn’t even know existed. I felt like what I was experiencing was greater than myself, my journey, if that makes sense."

Wilson added he had another breakthrough during his second year in Colorado when he reached out to the NHLPA for help and it put him in touch with an OCD specialist.

"For the first time in my entire adult life, I felt understood. In those sessions, I began to understand that one of the key steps in the healing process is not only acknowledging that what’s going on in your brain isn’t normal, but also, more importantly, acknowledging that it isn’t your fault."

Wilson said he wrote the article to try and help others that are dealing with issued they may not have sought out help for.

"I don’t want to pretend like I have it all figured out, because I don’t. I’m still learning as I go. But what I do know comes from what I went through. So if you’re going through it, remember this: Be kind to yourself, to your mind. Have patience with your soul, your body. And know that you don’t have to do it alone."

You can read the article in its entirety here.
OCTOBER 29, 2020  (11H04)