Behind the Scenes of Sport: Mental Illness

A couple of weeks ago, former Buffalo Sabres goaltender, Robin Lehner opened up about his drug addiction and bipolar disorder. He has been dealing with this over the course of his lengthy professional career all while trying to remain competitive in one of the toughest leagues in sport. He says:

“I was heavily drinking a case of beer a day just to settle the demons in my mind and then took pills to sleep. I was self-treating myself because I could not be inside my own head by myself. The thoughts of ending it all … it was real and close.”

Luckily for Lehner, he acknowledged that he had a problem and requested help from the NHL and NHLPA.

“I had never had a sober season of hockey my entire career,” he said. “With those manic swings, I could see the pattern. When I was hypomanic and in a good mood, I was a solid goalie. The depressive state, not so much.”

Lehner shares his story in hopes of making a difference and helping those who need help much like he himself. He states that, “there is no shame in involving others in your battle.”

While Lehner’s case seems to have resulted in a positive outcome, there are many athletes just like him who are suffering and have not yet come forward. When you are expected to perform at your very best every single night in front of thousands of fans live and on television, where your every move is analyzed, what kind of toll will that have on an athlete’s mental health?

While some athletes thrive in the spotlight and competitive settings, not everyone is capable of dealing with it and it can really do some damage on someones well-being.

You can read Robin Lehner’s letter here.

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