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Corey Hirsch’s Story of Struggle & Recovery


– So I’m with the Rangers,
they’re on a Stanley Cup run. I’m the third goalie
and the practice goalie, and I’ve got to just hang
in there and I’m having panic attack after panic
attack, and I’m dying inside. – At that time, an NHL locker room for someone who’s struggling
with challenges like that, it’s an unforgiving place. – At one point I tried
to break my own hand so that I could go home. I took a stick from the rink, and I tried to break my own hand. – [Commentator 1] Stripped
of the puck by Turgeon, one man back, moves in snaps a shot, Hirsch stopped that… Larionov, over the blue
line, into the slot, all alone, great save by Hirsch on… – My first year in Vancouver,
everything just comes together because it’s everything
I’d ever worked for and it’s new and it’s exciting. You know, I’m going out with friends, I’m getting to know the league, I’m like, teammates love
me, it’s all going great. – He was a thoughtful kid, likeable kid, you know, liked to have fun, you know, was an easy guy to
be around the locker room. [Commentator 1] Sets a
pick for him so he can move it out front, great save by
Corey Hirsch on Robitaille. Point blank range and Robitaille
can’t beat Corey Hirsch. – But all this is happening, there’s still all these
thoughts going on in my head and I’m still trying to
figure out the thoughts. They’re deep, they’re dark, I don’t really know what’s going on. So my second year in the
National Hockey League, I’m with the Vancouver Canucks and I’m having a pretty
good start to the year and then about a month
in where in New York, and it just starts over again, and I’m having panic attacks, I’m having anxiety levels
are through the roof, I’m struggling, I’m back to where I was at square one when it
happened with New York. Anyways, so I go, I play that night, and I play and it’s a disaster, I’m awful. [Commentator 1] Quick shot, he scores. (crowd cheering) [Commentator 2] Howie, you
were wrong, he’s got two now. He centers King, he scores. Gorgeous setup from
King, power play goal… Now Hirsch is pounding at Vasilyev. – [Commentator 2] He just
wants to swing at anybody, losing his balance, falling over backward. [Commentator 1] We’ll
see what happens here to Corey Hirsch in terms of the penalty. McCabe shoots, he scores! That’s a winner! That’s a winner! – I’m ready to kill myself
at this point, I’m done. I just, I don’t even want to live anymore. So I have two options,
I can either do that or I can ask for help. So the next day we’re in Jersey and it’s a morning skate
and I’m standing in the net and I’m supposed to play that night, and I can’t, I can’t see, I can’t… I find out later it’s
called depersonalization, it’s just, you’re in a fog,
your brain goes into a fog when you have that much panic and that much anxiety that your
brain just kinda shuts down. And I can’t even see, like
I can barely see pucks, so I’m like, I can’t play, I can’t do this to my
teammates, I can’t play. I go up to Tom Renney I say, “Tom I can’t play, I can’t.” And he’s looking at me like,
you know, ‘What’s going on?’ So I tell him a little bit,
I don’t tell him much though, like I’m still hiding everything, like I don’t want anybody to know. – You know, he was having such a… You know, such a tough time where you know, he was in the fetal position in the corner of the dressing room. You know, it got to a point where you knew something was definitely wrong. – At that time, the NHL locker room for someone who’s
struggling with, you know, challenges like that
is a tough place to be. It’s an unforgiving place. – I could see everything
in my teammates eyes change the way they looked at me. And I still would not, I
wasn’t telling anybody. Because the stigma back then, it was 1996, you didn’t tell anybody. – You’re supposed to be
tough, all-round tough. You don’t want to show
anyone your weaknesses. – I knew guys were talking
about me and what was going on, and Trevor took it upon himself, and I will be forever thankful
that he tried to talk to me, and we sat there but he didn’t understand. And I tried to kinda open up but I didn’t really tell
him the whole story either. – I can’t imagine what he went through and I feel bad today, that I didn’t know, that I didn’t have more, more insight into what
was actually going on but none of us did and that was just the sign of the times, I think. – From then on I started
being late for practices because I wanted to spend as little time in front of the guys as I possibly could, to try to hide it from them. Well as a teammate, you can’t do that. – Even when you’re with
someone most of the time, how do you know? How do you know? – Either you can continue
down the path you’re going, which is going to lead to destruction, or you can reach out to somebody and you can… get better. It was like the lights
just kind of went off. Because I didn’t know what was going on and there was something that was finally known that, you know, there was a name to it and
that they could help me. – You don’t have to be alone, you don’t have to do it yourself. I mean, there’s lots of… And it’s not a sign of
weakness, it’s just… part of life and you know, we’re all… We’re all a bit broken in some way and we all need help in different ways. So, I think that’s the big message here. – And I finally get the proper therapy, this is 15 years ago and I really
haven’t had an issue since. I have the tools now to handle it. The key to me is, early
diagnosis and telling somebody. If you reach out to somebody, if you stop digging that hole like I did and get out there and talk to somebody… you will get better and
you will be successful. – Hope is real, it’s real,
it’s not a dream, it’s real. You will get better.

Glenn Chapman

16 Comments

  1. Another reason why the Canucks organization is one of the best. Thanks for sharing your story Corey

  2. I had no idea. Corey was one of my favorite Canucks goalies of the mid-to-late 90s. Glad you got the help you needed!

  3. Corey I am so honoured you told your story!! We need more people to share so others know we are not alone!! Thank you very much!!!

  4. As fans we tend to forget that our heroes are human too. We all have our issues that we might struggle to deal with on our own. I'm so glad Corey was able to ask for help. Sometimes even a hero needs a helping hand.

  5. Awesome share Corey… Feel for you. Myself I've had clinical depression for over 20 years, and I've known two friends who have anxiety attacks. I would say this, I can never understand what they are going thru, but we can empathize with them, encourage them, be with them when they are in need. All in all, we all need Jesus, the son of God who died for our sins, and SICKNESSES, so that we may have abundant life, and whoever He sets free, is free indeed. I've never been MORE free than now, after I've accepted Him as my Saviour and Lord. I'm free from my depression for good! All glory to Him!

  6. This video completely avoids the fact that Hirsch has OCD or obsessive compulsive disorder. If that was stated, it would give the video context and people would have a greater understanding of a (generally misunderstood) mental illness. I hope it wasn't because it's too uncomfortable of a subject, because this video is vague.

    "Corey sought help within the Canucks organization with a proper diagnosis." "There was a name to it." Why are they evading the fact that he had OCD? This video has very little context of what actually happened, and how severe the issue was (he almost committed suicide). This video doesn't paint that picture, in fact go read this story written by Corey himself: http://www.theplayerstribune.com/corey-hirsch-dark-dark-dark/

  7. Good for Corey for coming out with this to help others. He was a great Kamloops Blazer!

  8. This is very inspiring to me, especially being a hockey fanatic. It's comforting to know that professional athletes struggle as well with mental illness. This video is especially comforting to me because I have depersonalization disorder myself, and it is a terrible thing.

  9. I personally struggle, putting it lightly, with pure OCD and read Corey's Player Tribune. Thank you Corey for giving a positive message to a ever so dark disorder. Everyday is hard and feels like im fighting for my life and for me but it's things like this that help me see that I can have a better life past this.

  10. Rangers fans were tough on him I remember in the early 90s but we had no idea this was going on, I really feel terrible that he had to deal with that in NYC, but we didn't know!! We would have embraced him and tried to help him, too.

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