The Transition Game
Welcome to The Transition Game blog series! Every week I will make an entry to summarize and reflect on my experience as I go through the I Got Mind Success Strategies Program. I will do my best to be entirely open and honest about the experience and how it affects me. I hope through reading this series you will gain a better understanding of what I Got Mind does and learn some things that you can apply to your own life. What I really want is for this to inspire you to be open and vulnerable about your own experiences.
So, why am I doing this? Well, I have plenty of answers to that question but the simplest way to put it is I feel like shit! Now, I’m not here to vent or complain, I’m here to learn, grow, and feel the way I want to feel. Let me give you a bit more background on who I am and what led me to be writing this blog today. I’m a Hockey guy, I just finished playing five years of college Hockey. Always known for my work ethic, dedication to the weight room, and being an absolute grinder. My almost non-existent point totals throughout my career will back that up.
Hockey and the weight room have been my two main outlets almost my entire life. If I had a bad day, you’d most likely find me in the weight room or on the ice trying to hit every single person who touched the puck. This kept me going and feeling great for many years but once I got to the college level, things started to change for me. I found myself struggling with confidence on the ice, which meant I got to play less, which meant I spent even more time in the weight room. Of course, I always found time for a heavy bench press or squat day, but stretching and mobility… managed to mostly avoid being placed in my daily schedule. I started to struggle with injuries due to the way I played and the way I was “taking care” of myself. I struggled with injuries and confidence my entire five-year college career.
My two outlets began to slowly fade and it took a toll on my mental health. The first time I saw a counsellor was in my second year of college Hockey. Things were bothering me in my personal life at the time on top of my athletic struggles. It was a good first step, but it didn’t last long, and I didn’t commit to it fully, so I saw few positive results.
These same things plagued me for the next three years, but at the time I didn’t realize, I just kept doing what I had always done because it got me where I was.
Then Covid-19 arrived, cutting my final season short, cancelling my last Athletic Banquet (The best night of the year every year as a student-athlete), and of course my grad. I remember watching my virtual grad ceremony and seeing my name scroll across the screen, I’m not sure what it was, but I just broke down. I couldn’t believe that’s how my five-year journey ended, all the work, injuries, and pressure for what? I felt like a loser, I felt like I put myself through so much for nothing.
Then I was faced with a question I had no clue how to answer… “now what?”. I didn’t want to start my work career… all I ever really wanted was to be a professional athlete. I needed reconstructive shoulder surgery from countless dislocations and my groin was hanging on by a thread. I still lacked confidence and I had grown quite bitter when it came to Hockey. So, I hung up the skates but I still didn’t know what the hell I wanted to do.
I floated around, worked part-time hours consulting for some small businesses and got my shoulder surgery. The combination of surgery and Covid ended up being quite hard on me, but it was a good time to do it as I didn’t miss out on anything. However, going from an extremely active and social student-athlete to being trapped in a small condo in a sling affected me in ways I never imagined. I started to spiral, more and more negative thoughts every day, no purpose, no socialization, no motivation. I just let myself rot, I felt stuck, and I felt like “what the hell is the point”. My attitude and mental state started to affect the people closest to me. It caused friction, fights, and further isolation. I continued to spiral. I finally recognized that this was more than just “a Covid year” and that I needed some help. I found a counselling service and started that process again, this time determined to really commit and see the benefits, and pull myself out of this black hole I was letting myself be sucked into. I half-committed and saw positive results, but they didn’t last long.
I continued to spiral, more negative thoughts invading my mind. I dreaded hearing the alarm go off in the morning, I never wanted to leave my bed. I didn’t want to deal with life, it started to feel like a burden I didn’t ask for. Everyday tasks became harder and harder and I recognized myself in the mirror less and less. Every once and a while I’d have a day where I felt motivated to make some change and pick up some healthy habits, from journaling to a new workout routine. But, I could never seem to make any of it stick, which isn’t like me… especially when it comes to working out.
Finally, one day on my way home from work I broke down again, this time I called my Mom. I vented to her, I told her how hopeless and lost I felt, how stuck I felt. She was unreal, Mom of the year, it was a conversation I don’t think I’ll ever forget. After I finished venting and she calmed me down, she told me about some other family members who have struggled with depression. I had no idea that those family members had struggled, but it gave me some hope. I thought okay if they can get through something like that, I can get through this. Unfortunately, that thought was followed with little and inconsistent action.
For a few more months I stayed that way, some good days, mostly not so good days. I had a really hard time taking care of myself physically, not eating, not working out, I couldn’t sleep without cannabis, all of which made me feel even worse mentally. Most days the only thing that got me out of bed was my puppy needing to go for a walk. I honestly don’t know where I’d be mentally without the little guy. I became very self-destructive which I had struggled with in years prior, but never to this extent.
I am incredibly fortunate to have the support system I have. Someone finally just called me out because it got to the point that I was bringing other people down with me. People I deeply care for. Sadly, that’s what it took for me to ACTUALLY do something about the way I have been feeling.
I called my doctor and officially was diagnosed with depression, checked off every single box. This was actually a huge relief. I finally had an actual explanation of why I felt so stuck, why I kept feeling the “call to the void”, why I couldn’t commit and pull myself back up. Now I just had to decide exactly what I was going to do about it.
The IGM Success Strategies program was the first thing that came to my mind. I need structure to keep me accountable when I am in this state, something more than just a Zoom call with a counsellor. I knew it would be at least a month before I could start. So I came up with a few ways to get back into working out, my boss gave me a great workbook to organize my days and set both personal and career goals, my girlfriend and I came up with a plan to eat better and more consistently. Essentially, I’m trying to reinstate my student-athlete lifestyle but in a sustainable way. I spent so long focusing on building the racecar (my body) but never once thought about the driver (my mind). I was the athlete equivalent of a Formula 1 racecar being driven by a gorilla. This time, my focus is balance, and mental wellness above all else. It’s time I truly practice what I preach.
Wish me luck, I’m nervous as hell, but I’m excited to share what I learn and how it affects me.
Write you next week,