Colorado Avalanche’s Colin Wilson published a personal reflection on The Players’ Tribune opening up about his addiction, recovery, and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (“OCD”).
Just the Beginning
Firstly, the title: “The Things You Can’t See” perfectly sets up the reader for the personal narrative. Wilson opens up the beginning wondering what the fans really see when they look into the glass arena. From a fan’s point of view, they can see guys zooming all over the ice. And hey, these guys seem happy, right? After all, they are getting paid millions of dollars to play their favorite sport, pretty good deal, eh?
As Wilson dives right in, he discusses the struggles he’d been facing with his untreated diagnose of OCD. He explains how his OCD had manifested early on his in childhood as he would continuously count trees over and over again during car rides with his parents. Or, when he played hockey at the junior or collegiate level, Wilson became paranoid over injuries, and that eventually took over his thoughts. The Avalanche player said his OCD is what made him the player he is today.
Early on with the Nashville Predators
Once the Nashville Predators drafted Wilson in 2008, he was no longer able to hide his OCD tendencies. After observing Wilson’s preflight routine on the road, General Manager David Poile, Assistant General Manager Paul Fenton, and team psychologist Gary Solomon, had a discussion with Wilson and his parents. Right then, Wilson discovered he had OCD. Wilson said, “It all revolved around control of the situation. I needed to feel like I had a hand in what was going on.”
Wilson wonders how different things would have ended up if he accepted his diagnosis right then and there, but he didn’t. He told himself that he would be fine.
2017 Stanley Cup Finals
According to Wilson, things did not start to spiral out of control until the 2017 Stanley Cup finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Up until that point, Wilson had been taking pills – Xanax and Seroquel – to help him sleep. During the playoffs, he was partying all throughout the night and excessively drinking. That is when Wilson finally hit rock bottom.
He remembers when the team was celebrating their advanced to the Stanley Cup finals, he wanted to go home and cry because he felt as if he was not contributing enough to the team. Wilson explains that one effect of OCD is that you are your biggest critic and you have this internal force that is constantly telling you that you are not good enough.
Wilson knew he had to change his ways and accept help after the team lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Cup final. He had already hit rock bottom and there was nowhere else he could go. After Wilson was traded to the Colorado Avalanche, he was introduced to natural medicine. Wilson explains that he wanted to stay away from pills and other addictive measures as he battled with addiction previously.
During 2019, he contacted the NHLPA and they were able to connect Wilson with an OCD specialist. He said that changed his life and for the first time in his life he finally felt understood. He is currently learning self-compassion and accepting that his brain chemistry levels are not normal; thus, causing the OCD.
Due to injuries and surgery, Wilson believes there is a possibility that his hockey days are over; yet, he is having a difficult time coming to terms with that. However, he is doing a lot to prepare for the next steps of his life. Wilson is currently enrolled in a university in Boston to study psychology. He also remains a big advocate for treating mental illnesses with alternative medicines and continues to connect with others to open up a space in Austin for alternative medicines and approaches to mental health issues.
For anyone, it’s never simple to come to terms to accept your mental illness. Wilson’s narrative is so important for people to realize that if an athlete like him is able to admit to the world that he is ill and is receiving help, then it’s okay for everyone else to get help. I applaud him very much for that and admire all the steps he is taking to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
You are never alone.
– Fran Romero (chess_romero)
Featured image and other images are the courtesy of The Players’ Tribune
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