Until today, I had not heard of Jamie Baker. He is a San Jose Sharks broadcaster, 404-game NHL centerman, and also struggles with mental health. This article on The Athletic goes into detail about his depression, ADHD, brain trauma, and his decision to end his life.
"Baker’s mind was racing and he was consumed with impulsive urges, and the hopelessness of his depression was making everything spiral so quickly.
“The deeper you get, the more you internalize everything and then it goes black,” Baker said. “And when it goes black, that’s when there’s no hope. I call it the black hole.”"
He took multiple leaves of absence from hockey and worked hard to get to a better place.
"Baker’s first leave of absence wasn’t the end of the journey, but rather the beginning. What followed was a second leave later that season, hours and hours of intensive therapy and a lifestyle overhaul that has required daily vigilance from Baker. He has since developed a routine that emphasizes mindfulness, gratitude and compassion for others, as well as himself."
Hockey culture can make it hard to talk about mental health. You are subtly encouraged to remain stoic and play through the pain. You never want to show an opponent that you have a vulnerability. Admitting that you need help is hard to do in the hockey community. But it should be treated just as seriously as a physical injury. If you tore your ACL, you wouldn't limp around and say that you are "fine", but seeking help for mental illness is still seen as taboo.
I'm glad that Jamie Baker has opened up and shared his story. I hope that more people are inspired to open up about their struggles. You are not alone and you are deserving of happiness.
"Grateful for my strength to be able to share my story in hope it helps others who struggle with mental health issues." -- Jamie Baker
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