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Hockey Talks...So Let's Talk

Hockey Talks brings a smile to Cam Tait, because he understands the profound hope the program can bring to others

by Cam Tait / OilersFoundation.ca

Sometimes, the darkness deepens in the middle of the night as the man re-positions himself in bed for what seems like the 500th time in three hours.

He looks at the green-lit numbers on his clock radio, nervously calculating how long he's been awake. He then tries to figure out how much longer he has to try, once again, to do something he's been trying to achieve for hours-to fall asleep

He looks at the ceiling, and then to his dresser with pictures of his son and three grandsons. "Maybe," he tells himself, looking at family will soothe his racing mind to slow down.

He closes his eyes for a few seconds, but doesn't feel any less relaxed. When he opens his eyes again, the first thing he sees is the green lights on the clock radio.

Another minute has gone by creating a little panic within him.

This man has dealt with insomnia since his teenage years. He notices his insomnia has only gotten worse with age.

He says when he can't sleep his mind wonders, reminding him of all the things he has to accomplish that day. When he thinks about the daily grind, he becomes anxious and worried - two things that makes sleep that much more difficult.

He reminds himself of that day 15 years ago when he was diagnosed by his doctor as being depressed. He thinks of the medication he's on and wonders if it's working.

He's a little ashamed, but then realizes it's genetic and runs in his family. In fact, a close relative - half his age - just revealed his issues with insomnia, anxiety and depression to him.

When the morning alarm finally sounds, the man climbs out of bed, mentally and physically exhausted, hoping he can somehow get through the day.

Surely, there must be the help and support he needs somewhere.

There is. Just consider Friday night at Rogers Place.

The Oilers and Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation (EOCF) are hosting the fifth annual Hockey Talks, which is an initiative to encourage people to start talking about mental health challenges rather than keeping them hidden.

Of course, these types of programs need financial resources to make an impact. The EOCF made a community investment Thursday morning - $25,000 to complete its $50,000 two-year commitment - to the CASA Foundation. The CASA Foundation supports CASA Child, Adolescent and Family Mental Health, which is a community-based provider of mental health services for infants, children, adolescents and their families within Edmonton and both Central and Northern Alberta.

One of their facilities, the newly-opened CASA Centre, helps children from newborns to 18 years of age overcome mental health challenges.

The Oilers support continues Friday when players are set to wear Hockey Talks decals on their helmets when they face-off against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Before the game, autographed Oilers pucks will be sold for $20 starting at 5:00 PM in Ford Hall and on the main concourse while supplies last. Net proceeds will go towards the CASA Foundation's Adolescent Day Program and the EOCF.

This news needs to be celebrated as much as it can be so young people can receive the help they need in order to be as confident and adventurous as they dream to be.

For the man mentioned at the beginning of this piece, Hockey Talks and CASA put a smile on his face, because he knows the profound hope the program brings to everyone who face the same kind of challenges he does in life.

He hopes knowing this can help him sleep a little more comfortable at night.

You may wonder who the man with insomnia and depression is.

I know him inside out.

You see, it's me.

(For comments, suggestions or just to say hi, email ctait@edmontonoilers.com)

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