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Introduction: Thank You So Much For Your Support Thus Far.

My name is David Thomson and I am one half the Here For You Mental Health team. Me and my partner Kayden Nguyen are very excited to begin this venture and to share this space with you. As mentioned in the “About Us” section of our website, the clothing and apparel is the first stage of our company. Our goal is to have online and in person clinical platforms where 15% of client fees will go toward low income families, so they can access psychotherapy services at a more affordable rate. As our brand develops, so will the range of clothing, apparel, and accessories we sell. 15% of profits from this merchandise will be donated to Canadian mental health resources like CAMH and Talk Suicide Canada.

With this blog series, our hope is to educate the general public on mental health and relay successful habits and behaviours that people can implement in their own life. We want the public to get a deeper look into science and academic research behind the mental health topics that we share on our social media platforms. We want to provide content where academic research is delivered in a digestible format for public consumption. We will also be recording and filming podcast interviews with registered psychotherapists, psychologists, and individuals who have battled mental health struggles in their lifetime. In honour of transparency and for you to better understand the WHY behind Here for You, both myself and Kayden will share our own mental health stories through blog posts, at our own pace.

Today, I’d like to share a bit of my own story and how some of my mental health struggles stemmed from my hockey career. Writing this wasn’t easy but that’s kind of the point. If just one person can relate or find comfort from reading my words, that’s enough for me to keep sharing.

My story has two major parts. One is the witnessing of sexual assaults at a young age and being taken advantage of by people I trusted the most. I buried these situations in my mind and tried to live with shame, anxiety, and negative self image without anyone’s help. After experiencing major panic attacks, I slowly started to share pieces of my struggle to those closest to me. Even though I didn’t truly know what the cause of my panic attacks were, I felt the need to try and explain them.

The other portion of my struggles comes from my relationship with hockey and how it really affects my self-worth. I equated “failures” as an athlete to “failures” as a human being. My worth as a person felt linked directly to my worth as a hockey player. Even with things completely out of my control, like COVID-19 and physical injuries, it felt like no matter how hard I was trying to make my dream come true it was never going to happen.

I still feel like I failed as a person. It’s hard to explain the level of guilt and shame I’ve felt. It overwhelmed me so much that I began engaging in self-harm and did not want to live anymore. I hated myself as a person. When I first signed pro in the ECHL, these feelings and self-harm continued even though I thought they would go away. Eventually, I decided that I didn’t want to feel this way anymore and needed to get professional help. I started going to therapy, was put on medication and began to engage in helpful practices like breathing exercises and mindfulness meditation.

Today, I feel like I have the tools to manage anxiety, panic attacks, and depressive episodes. I’ve gained more confidence in being myself and relaxing in social settings. Meditation, mindfulness, introspection, and journaling have been catalysts for my current happiness. I’m not going to say I am stress free, or that I don’t have bad days. I am just better at managing my emotions through the rough times. I am proud to say I have not though about suicide in 5 months. I may not have been able to say that without getting professional help.

As I write this, I feel uncomfortable, vulnerable, and scared. I have never told anyone, including my parents, some of the things I have shared in this brief story. But I know that this is important to do in order to show others that they are not alone. I felt like no one would understand which is why I kept things to myself and let them grow to the point they got to. It’s extremely important to go see a professional, so you can get the help you may need. That is not a sign of weakness but rather a sign of strength. You are taking control of your mind and your life.

I’m so excited to grow this service into a clinic and help people manage their mental health. I want to thank everyone who has purchased already allowing us to donate to Talk Suicide Canada on May 31, 2023.

You are not alone.

You are loved.

We are here for you.

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