Alliance Profile – Theo Fleury
Stanley Cup Champion and Olympic Gold Medalist, Co-Founder of The Breaking Free Foundation, Author of Playing With Fire and Conversations with a Rattlesnake
What past life experiences, physical traumas or genetics do you believe have had an effect on your mental health?
I had prenatal exposure to Valium, as my mom was severely depressed and taking that drug while she was pregnant with me. Both parents struggled with addictions which led to very chaotic childhood. In addition to all of that, I was sexually abused for 2 1/2 years by a coach as an adolescent.
How did the effects on your mental health appear in terms of symptoms?
Because of the prenatal exposure to an opioid, I couldn’t produce the proper amount of serotonin or dopamine to regulate my own brain chemistry. I always felt anxious and on edge, and lots of fear came along with it.
When and why did you decide to ask for help to get relief?
I was completely exhausted from living in emotional pain and suffering the majority of my life. I tried everything on the planet I could get my hands on to manage that emotional pain: i.e., drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, food. For brief periods some would distract me, but eventually, they all stopped working. I knew at some point I was going to die if I didn’t get more formal help, and I didn’t want to die.
What methods helped you individually get/feel better?
EMDR has been the most effective in helping me reframe my PTSD from those traumas mentioned, and to better help me understand my subconscious brain. Simple techniques like breathing, meditation, exercise have really helped me, and eating the right foods has been so important with the overall fuelling and nourishing my body.
Why did you decide to go public with your story? Who were/are you hoping to help and how?
I went public with my story for the simple fact that I wanted to put my life on paper take one last look at it and put it in its rightful place, which was the past. I didn’t know that by telling my own story it would inspire others to find their own voices. I love helping others now and know I was put here to do just that.
How did people react when you went public with your story?
There was lots of sympathy and understanding from the masses, and there continues to be so at all the stops I make to speak. With the media, not so much, as the only thing they wanted to do was revictimize me for the story. But, just like you all, #SameHere.