“See me, Not my illness” — a fundraiser for the Schizophrenia Society of Alberta — is returning again to the Lacombe Memorial Centre after hosting former TSN personality Michael Landsberg last year.
This year the event — which is on Oct. 19 at 5 p.m. — is hosting former NHL Goaltender Clint Malarchuk who played in the NHL from 1981 until 1992. The mental health advocate has been open about his battle with mental health issues, including post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) caused initially by an on-ice injury in 1989 where the skate blade of Steve Tuttle sliced his carotid artery leading to Malarchuk losing 1.5 litres of blood and him thinking he was going to die.
Malarchuk began advocating for mental health awareness after he attempted to take his own life in Oct. 2007 with a .22 calibre rifle. The incident led to a PTSD diagnoses, which helped him realize mental illness is an illness, not a weakness.
Malarchuk has since wrote a book A Matter of Inches—How I Survived In The Crease And Beyond and speaks all over North America about his mental health journey in order to help others.
Malarchuk, who was born in Grand Prairie, Alberta, said that surviving everything he has in his life means God wanted him to help people.
“For me to be able to talk about these things and educate people on my experience is very motivating for me. I just got done talking in Kamloops and I was proud my mom got to be there because I got a huge standing ovation from people who I may have helped or touched in some way,” he said.
Malarchuk said that since he started speaking to groups, he has noticed society become more open about mental health issues.
“We are way more open than we have been in the past. I think part of it is companies who have started to recognize mental illness as an illness,” he said, citing the growth of metal health hot lines that have helped people be open about their struggles.
Despite the growth of awareness, Malarchuk said it is important to continue to battle the negative stigma around mental health issues.
“It is an illness, not a weakness. A lot of people are struggling and they don’t get help because of stigma. It is an illness, like a diabetic. It is a chemical inbalance of the brain and once you understand that — you get help,” he said.
Malarchuk hopes people with voices in society, like himself, continue to be open about their mental health issues because he believes that helps break the stigma.
“They are telling their stories, saying they went through this or they have this. I think it offers some humility, being out there telling your painful story and letting the guy that is working a regular job think they aren’t alone,” he said.
Malarchuk said that mental illness does not discriminate and hoes that he can help people who are battling through tough times.
“We have to be compassionate and we have to make sure people understand that it is not a weakness. That is what I hope people get out of it. They do not have to suffer in silence,” he said.
If you would like tickets to the event, you can call (403) 896-7556 or purchase them online at Https://ssa-seemenotmyillness.eventbrite.ca. Tickets cost $100 per person or $700 for a table of eight.