I Think It’s More Than Just Hockey Pressure
Derek Boogaard died from a bad drug combination. Rick Rypien apparently was bi-polar. And Wade Belak, according to his mom, suffered from bouts of depression.
Now, the league is going to try and find out if an enforcer job leads to some sort of profound stress and pressure.
If all three suffered from bi-polar, then being a tough guy in the NHL has nothing to do with with what happened. Blame it on the disease. It’s a powerful evil.
I know someone with bi-polar, amd I can tell you that for her, life is a living hell, a life that makes no sense, and one where it seems the best thing to do is just bow out and the pain will finally be gone.
When I first met her, I thought she was just an over-the-top rebellious teenager. She’d become a serious drug addict and was busted for store theft. She’d get angry and punch walls. She dressed up at times in provocative clothes, which I hated. I didn’t get this gal at all.
Then I saw that she was afraid to work and just be around other people, and cried or screamed for no apparent reason. She cut her wrists many times. She told her mom she just wanted to die because life was a black hole, and she didn’t want to put her loved ones through any of this any more.
I would hear her crying in the middle of the night. She couldn’t sleep, and the demons were back.
She began to see specialists and it was discovered she was bi-polar and schizophrenic, somewhat like Rick Rypien. There’s no simple prescription to fix this either. This is a lifetime work-in-progress. Doctors, specialists, therapists, and others, in some sort of guessing game, have been trying on my friend different drugs, different combinations, and over several years she’s slightly better. But even now I can talk to her in the morning and she’s bubbly and happy, and then I can talk to her several hours later and she’s just cut her wrists again, is crying, and calls out that she wants to die, that she can’t take it anymore.
She probably won’t ever be completely normal, but we’re hoping that over the long term, sometime down the long road, she’ll be happier, no longer have suicide thoughts, maybe work, maybe get married, and hopefully feel really good about herself. She’s a good girl with a big heart, and she doesn’t deserve this.
Rick Rypien had this horrible disease and it had nothing to do with being a fighter and surviving in this dog-eat-dog business of hockey. He was fortunate to have a skill, unlike the girl I know, and he could mask his problems probably better than her. But if he went through the same hell as her, I understand a little why he bowed out, and my heart aches for him. Now I hope he’s finally found happiness in another way.
Was Derek Boogaard bi-polar and/or schizophrenic? Was Wade Belak? If they were, their deaths weren’t a result of their enforcer jobs, where they must fight, literally, to stay on the team. If they were bi-polar, they were in a living hell that we don’t understand and I think the pressure of big-league hockey doesn’t compare at all to the pressure of just trying to find some peace which most of us take for granted.
It’s a horrible disease, as nasty as it gets. I’ve been trying to understand it, even just a little, for a long time and I’ve gotten almost nowhere. It’s unpredictable, surprising, and doesn’t make the least bit of sense. But at least I came to realize that she wasn’t a rotten and unmanageable teenager. She was hurting more than most of us would ever understand.
Remember those times when you were depressed. Then multiply it by a thousand, maybe ten thousand, and it becomes hard-core bi-polar. The NHL will never be able to cure players who have it, and I just pray that there aren’t many.