Dr. Diane McIntosh: Loneliness and the NHL bubble

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Years later, struggling with PTSD, OCD, depression and alcoholism, Clint shot himself in the head. Remarkably, he survived, and has become a tireless advocate for players living with mental illness.

I wonder whether the pressure to be invincible has made our hockey heroes more vulnerable.

What is most troubling about the bubble article, and other stories of players who are struggling with isolation, is the comments made on social media that reinforce the stigma associated with mental illness.

It seems we’re living at a time when only the most disadvantaged can express their challenges or emotions. A player who shares that he feels lonely or misses his family is met with, “Buck up, baby. You’ve got tons of money. What do you have to complain about?” Because you’re rich, you’re not allowed to be lonely?

Too many social media users lack humanity. Unlike the player’s diary, where he was seeking perspective, trolls project their venom outward and never reflect inward.

Money can buy stuff, but it can’t save you from loneliness, it can’t save a marriage that’s on the brink, and it can’t replace tucking your kid into bed or holding your newborn.

It’s true that mental health and finances are intricately linked. Recessions, job losses, and underemployment are all associated with worsening mental health and they can lead to a vicious cycle, fuelling each other.

But look at all the people we have lost to suicide who had wealth and fame, and who were deeply loved. The belief that you have no right to have emotional struggles or to express those feelings, because of your affluence or other perceived advantages, keeps people quiet, keeps them isolated, and sadly, sometimes leaves them dead.

Thank you, Corey, for your strength, courage, and determination on the ice, but even more importantly, off the ice. By speaking up about your own battle with mental illness, you have lit the path for countless others to seek help, when all they could see was darkness.

Dr. Diane McIntosh is a psychiatrist and the author of This Is Depression.

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