Fighting Youth and Teen Suicide with Kendra Fisher
We are facing an increasing crisis of teen and youth suicide in America and it is especially affecting young girls. Today's episode is a difficult one Kendra Fisher former elite ice hockey player and mental health. Activist and advocate helps me dig into the roots of the problem and what we can do to turn it around years ago. When faced with the opportunity to realize her dream of goaltending for team Canada Kendra was diagnosed with severe anxiety disorder coupled with severe panic attacks depression and agoraphobia forcing her to leave the national program in order to seek help to learn how to live with what had become a crippling disease. She now dedicates her life to helping. Young people get help for their mental illnesses. We turn now to a nationwide tragedy suicide new report from the Centers for disease. Control SAYS IT IS GROWING. Rapidly has been on the rise for more than a decade but nation suicide rate is at its highest point since one thousand nine hundred twelve year old accomplice allegedly harassed. Szechuan included that. You should drink bleach and die. No one likes you and you should go kill yourself. Sedgwick jumped off a near her home. After writing friends nine year old McKenzie atoms last week from other says the fourth grader was the target of Constant Racial Thompson? Name calling I was diagnosed with mental illness and I had no idea where to go so it was actually out at a team. Canada camping in Calgary and leading up to it in the weeks before I'd been to the doctors I've been to the hospital emergency room. I had no idea what was wrong with me. I felt like I was having a heart attack. I felt like it was gonNA Faint. Couldn't breathe swallow and and everybody told me it was fine. I love hockey and I love everything. It's given me both my hockey career. Also it would have had a shelf life and now. I'm in this position where I've learned so much about myself and I've met so many incredible people because of the journey I've been on and hopefully I can be a part of something that might stop somebody else. I'm Kendra Fisher and I'm fighting for the lives of those living with mental illness. Sorry not sorry so I mean. We've got a tough topic today but really before we dive in a love for you to give my listeners. A bit of information about your background. And how did mental health especially in girls become one of your causes? My background is hockey. I mean everything about my background is hockey. I grew up like so many Canadians. Just really wanting to have that red and White Jersey. That had my name on the back and I wanted to play for team Canada. I wanted to go to the Olympics and everything in my life through. My teens really suggests that I was going to be successful in that. I was carded member of team. Canada's National Hockey Program and sometime after high school I just got to a place where symptomatically and not knowing what. It was without a diagnosis. I was off. I just I felt sick all the time I felt like I was making trips to the emergency room constantly. Feeling like I was having a heart attack feeling like I couldn't breathe and it got to a place where unfortunately the perfect storm kind of hit. When I was out at my tryouts for team Canada in ninety nine and I was out at the camp and I just couldn't hide it anymore. It couldn't hide the battle that I was having every single day I grew up in in the greatest. You know possible situation. I had a great family. I had great friends. I was in a small town and I had a dream and my dream was. I wanted to play for team Canada. I wanted to play in the Olympics. That was that was what I knew. That was everything I worked for and I was well on my weight that I went to the coaches and I tried to explain to them what was going on and quite honestly their response to me was what it helps to know. What already made the team? They knew they wanted to select me that year. And I was finally get that chance to live my dream and it's obviously been one of the hugest moments of my life but not for anything I WANNA remember. Kazan's there was no at that point. What I eventually learned was a severe panic. Disorder and AGORAPHOBIA. Ocd clinical depression had literally taken over my life. And I spent the next five years unable to leave my apartment. Valey participating in my diagnosis just kind of scraping by and doing the bare minimum to survive and after five years I realized that just didn't see the point anymore and at that point I knew I had to make a decision and somehow I found it in me to start fighting and I learned everything I could about mental illness and the system and how it works and what supports are available when I really kind of became at the risk of sounding unhealthy obsessed with my own recovery and I got to a place where. I live very comfortably with my diagnosis. It doesn't mean it's gone. I live with it every day but now I live with it as a professional speaker and travel the world helping others learn how to cope and manage. I also work as a firefighter. I managed to go back and play for team. Canada's inline hockey team and it's really just kind of become a journey that I'm so passionate about because I understand how hopeless it feels but more importantly I understand how hard it is to find hope and defined real help and support and understanding about mental illness. And I just want to be a part of that. Narrative does mental illness. Run in your family. Yes yes and no I mean. I've always done this whole. Why did it happen to me and I think we always look for the answers because if we could find the answers we can fix the problem? Certainly on my on my Dad's side of the family. There's some depression but it wasn't so prevalent that I ever knew about. It wasn't something that I was ever made aware of. It didn't show itself to me until I actually understood what I was dealing with. And you said that you're now living comfortably with your mental illness. What does that mean? I'm fully functioning. It doesn't affect my day to day life in a way. It did in the way. It did kind of earlier on in my diagnosis. I got to a place where I just have an incredible system of support set up around me and I have all of my tools and strategies in place and I'm very quick to identify when I'm not doing well and I've also given others the permission to hold me accountable when they see I'm not doing well and in doing so. It allows me to really react quickly and now. I mean I would challenge that on my worst days of anxiety. I'm at worst as a panic on my worst days of depression doesn't affect me any longer than it would affect somebody getting a bad cold or the you know the stomach flu. It's it's a couple of days of really having to focus on what's brought me back to that place and making sure that I am doing all of the things that I know. Keep me healthy and usually I can rectify it. Just by changing those behaviors. I suffer from generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder. But I think it's so hard that when we're in the middle of it to do the things that we know will make us feel better right like I know that going out and being in my garden digging in the dirt or taking a hike or taking a yoga class. I know that these are the things that will make me feel better and yet it's so hard to break out of it. Do you have any advice for me? Yeah absolutely with love and affection. Not as an not an onerous way. But I think that we forget to practice the things that keep us healthy when we're doing well We get to this place where we let life kind of takeover and that you know that pace of just going and when we're good we don't feel the need to necessarily revert back to that self care in those things that we know keep us healthy feel like so many people only practice crisis response and I think that it's time that people learn education and prevention are really the way to manage things crisis response is really you know. You're too far already.