I belong to a ringette team. The Comox Valley Cougars. http://comoxvalleyringette.com/index.htm We are a master’s team, meaning players are over 30 years of age- I’m WAY over- I have been playing with them for 5 years now.
Growing up in the Comox Valley, there were very few opportunities for me to skate, so close to the age of 50 I thought why not, as I wanted to play hockey. To make a long story short, I found out about the Ringette team. I had been skating for about 6 months at the public skating at the local indoor rink. I realized that I am not going to be learning much if I kept skating around in circles, so I contacted the ringette team, as their web site said all skating abilities welcome. They got back to me and told me that their team roster was full but if I wanted to come out and play the game I was more than welcome, and as they say the rest is history.
Three weekends ago, we went to a ringette tournament in Langley. I love my team and enjoy going away with them. My team is a mixture of players, from all walks of life and all playing abilities. Some have been playing since they were wee lasses, and after many years away from it have started up again. Some played hockey in their younger years and continue to do so, and then some are like me, totally new to the game, and the skating.
When I mean new to skating, I mean, putting skates on and hanging onto the boards as I went around the rink!!!
With the amazing acceptance and support from my team I have slowly improved, dared to take chances and try harder. The first night I went to practice I was terrified, scared I would not be good enough, could not skate well enough, make mistakes etc. But they were amazing and supportive and I loved the game. As time went along I became more comfortable with the team, and was able to relax, well sort of.
So, at this point, you may be asking, “Why is she writing about her ringette team in a blog about hope and mental health?”
Well, my smart ass answer is “because it’s my blog and I can write about what I want.” But, the real reason I am writing this is because teamwork can be just as important, powerful and valuable for your mental health!
I have a mental health team. I have not always had this. I remember the dark days before I was correctly diagnosed, when I thought I was crazy and felt like I was the only one in the entire world who felt the way I did. I was struggling to keep my head above the water. A time where it felt like everywhere I turned life was knocking me down and it was getting harder and harder to get up again. A time of felt hopelessness and wondering how I was going to carry on.
I remember the fear of going to see my family doctor, and telling him what was REALLY going on, afraid he would think less of me, turn me away, say I was crazy etc. To my pleasant surprise he did not. I was referred to the adult day therapy program at the local hospital. Once again, on my first time there I had the same fears and trepidations, and once again I was pleasantly surprised, and they taught me a lot. I was then referred to a psychiatrist who had a group for people with Complex P.T.S.D. I was to meet him first, and see if I was right, but more importantly, to make sure I was ready for group work. I remember the morning of my first meeting with him. I sat in my car, in the parking lot looking at the door to his office thinking “I could just go for coffee right now.” I’m glad I didn’t.
When I was correctly diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder my family doctor had never heard about it, but he was open minded enough to learn what he could, and he has become one of my biggest advocates, especially when the chips are down and I need to be admitted to the hospital. And, once again, to make a long story short, the rest is history.
I have come a long way, there have been many people on my mental health team, all wanting the best for me. Some have retired, some have moved, new ones have come on board. Some are professional, some are family and friends. Each one has brought their unique skills and insights to me and I have become better for it. I am now doing more than I ever thought would be possible. Yes, I still struggle at times, I still get frustrated and sometimes I need to pull away from activities and focus on myself. I am able to ask for help during these times, and with help and support I cannot just get through these moments, but grow and learn from them. Coming out the other end a better and more whole person. More confident with who I am.
Team work does work, in sports, and in mental health. With support, encouragement and help, one can become more and do more than they ever thought possible, and if you are lucky, you may find some lovely surprises along the way.
During the weekend away with the ringette team, we played 5 games. The first 4 games were played in 30 hours, it was busy! We played our 1st one on a Friday afternoon, we lost. Our 2nd game was Friday night. During that game, with 4 minutes to go, we were down by 1 and I scored the tying goal. It was a beauty, a backhand shot, went in the top corner of the net. It was an amazing feeling. I did not know I could get so excited and yell for so long. My team mates that were on the ice came over and congratulated me. It was like a big team hug and all I kept thinking was “don’t fall down” I was in shock, I could not believe I had just done that and I had this huge grin on my face. On my next shift, with less than 4 seconds to go, I assisted with the winning goal. It was an amazing feeling, and in the locker room my team gave me the M.V.P. Needless to say that grin stayed with me throughout the weekend.
The next day I got another goal and assist. We came away from the tournament with the bronze medal.
I am not the strongest player, and I am far from the best player or skater on the team. But, I can still be part of the team. Also, I did not score those goals alone, it was a team effort, and some players scored amazing goals, many in fact. It’s amazing to watch them. Then, there is our amazing goalie. I don't know how he does what he does.
My ringette team knows about my illness and support me and accept me just the way I am. It is because of this welcoming and supportive environment I keep going back. That and the love of the game. Unlike hockey, a player cannot carry the ring all the way down the ice, you have to pass the ring over the blue line, going both directions on the ice. So, this truly is a team sport.
The people on my mental health team support, and accept me for who I am. It is because of this welcoming and supportive environment that I keep asking for, and receiving help and support when needed. As with my skating and playing skills, they did not improve overnight. It took a lot of work, my willingness to ask for help. The work-both skating and my mental health- is ongoing, and most likely will be for the rest of my life. One thing I do know, I am not alone with this and I could not ask for better team mates!!
These are my thoughts for today. I wish you all well in your journey.
Cheers and be well