How Hockey Helps Me Get Through Bipolar Episodes

We are Blackhawks fans. My husband’s family is from Chicago, and when we started dating, he taught me hockey. I fell in love with the game and the team for myself. When we got married, “Chelsea Dagger” (the song that plays after a goal is scored) played after the priest declared us man and wife.

I hesitate to say hockey saved my life. A lot of things combined together to do that. But I will say hockey has, on more than a few occasions, saved my quality of life.

Like most people with depression, I can barely pry myself out of bed when I’m depressed. I’ll spend the day under the covers or get home from work and immediately retreat to the mess of pillows and blankets I left that morning. I don’t want to do anything. That’s when hockey quietly rescues me. My husband will sit with me, watching the game on silent, in case I’m not interested. Inevitably, by the end of the game, I’m either watching or asking him to turn up the volume. Either way, I’m hooked. Suddenly, I have something to rally around. I have players I’ve watched for years that I want to cheer on and a team I want to win. Some games, I’ll lay quietly and just let the game overrule whatever thoughts I’m trying to escape and sometimes I’m calculating goalie stats on the fly and trying to tell the players through the TV that I could really use a win.

Then there are the manic episodes. I’m anxious in my mania and often easily annoyed. On the best days, I am scattered and on the worst days, I am unable to function. Once again, there’s hockey. This mood requires the game to be on mute. Too many different sounds only make me more and more agitated, as they add to the commotion already going on in my mind. I may not be able to focus wholeheartedly on the action, but it anchors me in time just the same. It was the first period. Now it’s the second. We used to have two points. Now we have three. Depending on the severity of the episode, it may be all I really process — just the time and whether we’re winning or losing. But if it’s a more minor episode, the fast paced game catches up to my fast paced mind, and suddenly I’m running on Blackhawk time. Move by move, change by change, from one side of the ice to the other, I’m right with them. And when the game dips, suddenly I realize my thoughts aren’t so fast anymore.

High or low, being able to get immersed in something besides my own thoughts is a big deal. Win or lose, I’ve had something to cheer about. Usually mind has evened out a little, and I can sleep a little better that night. I’m not saying hockey is some magical cure, but I don’t know what I would do without it.

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