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How Rick Rypien helped save my life

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks

It was with tremendous sadness that on August 15th, 2011, the world learned of the passing of Rick Rypien.

Rypien, a beloved member of the Vancouver Canucks family for six years, was a son, brother, teammate and friend; a hockey hero to many, he remains a hero with a legacy of helping others facing depression.

Last week I received an email from Christine, who, as you'll read, should be known as Courageous Christine. She wanted to share her tale of overcoming an abusive relationship to regain control of her life, because without Rick Rypien, it may never have happened.

How Rick Rypien helped save my life

By Christine

When you look around my tiny apartment the first thing you notice is I have hockey pictures everywhere, even on the wall at the end of my bed. Sounds cheesy, eh? Like some 16-year-old obsessive fan girl. I'll admit I have some crazy fan girl stuff up; my Ballard posters come to mind. I also have six pictures in my living room alone of one of my idols and favourite Canucks, Trevor Linden.

There are three that mean much more though. In my dining room I have a "Forever A Canuck" wall with pictures of Luc Bourdon and Rick Rypien. On the opposite wall I have a picture of Rick Rypien after a fight with the caption "Keep your gloves on kid, you don't have to fight anymore." I also have a picture of him at the end of my bed. It has the caption "Even heroes have the right to bleed" over it with a 37RYP pin attached.

So, why are they there?

To remind me to keep going.

Last summer I was entrenched in an abusive relationship. This relationship started out all right, but as time went on my boyfriend started to be mean and I eventually faced forms of abuse on a daily basis. I was determined to make it work, because we had two small children. I started to believe that what he told me was true and that maybe I did deserve everything that was happening.

Then August 15th happened.

Somehow, out of that, I found the strength I needed to keep going in my life. I saw the outpouring of support from Canucks fans, hockey fans and just people in general in the wake of Rick Rypien’s death. Over the next couple days, hearing about Rypien’s struggles and how he had wanted to help other people, I realized I wanted the same thing. I realized that I was indeed strong enough to get out of this relationship and learn to enjoy life again. To watch my two children grow up.

With the help of the few friends and family that I had finally opened up to, I left. On September 2nd, 2011, I started my new life. I still struggle every day. I still hurt more than I ever thought possible, and it seems crazy, because I am in such a better place than I was the past couple of years. I kept quiet for so long, because I never wanted to admit that I let myself be abused. I never wanted to admit that I let depression get the better of me. I was always the strong one. It was extremely hard to admit what I had become and where I was heading. But I did it. I started talking, and while at first it didn’t seem like it was helping, it was.

They say unless you’ve been through it, you won’t understand. I cannot stress how true that is. When I hear people say that suicide is a selfish thing, and if you’re depressed you just need to make changes, I want to slap them. I wish I could take those people and put them in my shoes for even an hour, and I’m sure they would quickly understand. There are no words to describe the feelings for those who haven’t been through it, and I would never think anything bad of Rick, or anyone else in his position, for what he did. I don’t like to see it happen now that I know there is a way out, but I do understand. It just shouldn’t have to happen.

I didn’t know Rick personally, but he has affected my life in a profound way. I hope his family, friends and fans know that while losing him had to be an incredibly painful and sad time, he has helped save one life, and given two young children their mother back.

RIP Rick Rypien, thank you for helping save my life. The photo above is of my tattoo, which I got to commemorate Rick and celebrate my new life.

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