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NHL-Star Corey Hirsch Opens Up About His Battle with Pure OCD

A retired NHL player speaks out on his silent battle with mental illness, including a suicide attempt and intrusive thoughts.

Written by Courtney Gillen

01 The article “Dark, Dark, Dark, Dark, Dark, Dark, Dark, Dark” was published in The Player’s Tribune by Corey Hirsch on February 15, 2017

02 Corey Hirsch was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder during his NHL career

03 Before his diagnosis, Hirsch made an attempt at suicide

04 Hirsch was finally properly diagnosed after confiding in a team trainer about his struggle

05 OCD affects roughly 2-3% of the population

In the summer of 1994, Cory Hirsch was in the process of driving his car off a cliff to end his life when the thought, “What if I survive?” popped into his head.

Corey Hirsch, a now retired NHL player and Olympian, was at the peak of his career when he almost committed suicide. In his article for The Player’s Tribune, Hirsch shares his story of suffering from Pure OCD and overcoming the mental illness stigma in professional sports.

Hirsch recalls his first intrusive thoughts, describing them as “dark” images in his head. From that point, the thoughts never went away, constantly making him question whether he was insane, if he could really act on these thoughts and what was wrong with him.

Though Hirsch was suffering personally, he was still excelling in his professional career. After a short time, he began to lose control and his thoughts followed him onto the ice. “My dark thoughts became more and more crippling. I couldn’t even get out of bed to eat, and I lost of a ton of weight,” said Hirsch.

Unmasking Mental Illness | CAMH Content Series

Not knowing where to turn to for help and having already attempted suicide, Hirsch started talking to therapists, but his thoughts got worse and he was still without an explanation.

Eventually, Hirsch told his trainer, who suggested a new therapist. After being evaluated for a day, he was finally diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder. For Hirsch, this was a step in the right direction and allowed him to realize that he wasn’t insane or a bad person.

While Hirsch’s time in the NHL was dark and painful, he overcame the stigma of mental illness, especially in pro sports, that ultimately saved his life and brought him answers.

Mental health isn’t an easy topic to discuss, but it’s our responsibility to do a better job of speaking up when someone is struggling, Hirsch said. Though it took a long time to get out of the hole his mental illness took him to, “there is a light, however faint, in all this darkness.”

To read the article in full, head here.

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