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The courage to speak up

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks
“Watching hockey gave me a much needed break from the mess going on inside my head, but it was always temporary. What I found was a distraction from my problems, but I had still yet to solve them – and then Mindcheck came along.”

Chandler, a 20-year-old student at Simon Fraser University, is a Kevin Bieksa fan for more reasons than his biceps, boisterousness and booming play. She sat down a few weeks ago and typed out a letter to Bieksa, a moving letter that goes beyond fan mail.

It took Chandler a long time to realize she was suffering from depression. “I was good at pretending that everything was okay,” she wrote, “but I couldn’t remember the last time I felt absolutely giddy.

“And then I started watching hockey.”

The Canucks became a passion for Chandler, an escape from the day-to-day. As she began looking more into the team and getting to know the players, she stumbled upon a Bieksa video for Mind Check, a program designed to help youth and young adults connect to mental health resources and support.

The program was set up in memory of former Canucks forward Rick Rypien, who passed away in August 2011. Bieksa, Rypien’s best friend, has been a spokesperson for the foundation and his voice is clearly reaching those who need a hand.

Chandler is proof of that.

“Coming clean about my depression has been the hardest thing that I have ever done, but it has also been the most rewarding – and I have you to thank for it,” she wrote.

Chandler’s letter was chosen as the winner of the Canada Post Fan Mail contest and for her efforts, she receives Canucks tickets, a jersey, a Canada Post prize pack, and a behind the scenes tour of Rogers Arena – not to forget the phone call from Bieksa, who recently gave her a ring.

“Before you, my depression was so overwhelming and I didn’t think I would ever be strong enough to get past it. You gave me hope.”

Thank you for sharing your story Chandler, others will share theirs because of your courage.

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