My name is Jeff Corbett and I battle with anxiety. This does not define who I am anymore, but it did for a long time. I wanted a chance to put my story out there to send a positive message to other people battling with their own heads each and every day.
It all became evident to me 6 years ago in my first year of Jr. hockey, which was an extremely difficult time to adjust to new friends and a new community at such a young age. The ability to speak out and tell someone about what was going on was not in the cards, as the last thing I wanted as a 15 year old was all my older teammates and coaches thinking I was "soft". The biggest fight was with my own head and I didn't know how to win that one; I couldn't train for this. I reached out to a minimal amount of people; my trainer, my parents, and one close friend who was also a teammate. Although I reached out, I left it very vague, as I did not want to be perceived as soft or incapable of playing the game. I made up many excuses; injuries, flu, you name it, but little did I know this was only harming myself. I kept my fight to myself for 5 whole years, with only a few people knowing what was really going on in my head, and it began to get worse with time. I was known as the guy who always got hurt, yet so many people had no idea what was really going on.
I've learned now that seeking help is not soft, it is the strongest thing you can do.
Did this affect my hockey career moving forward? Who knows, but not speaking to someone sooner is always going to be a big regret for me. I graduated from the OHL at the end of the 2015 season, happy with what I had accomplished, but still not satisfied with how I went about who I was. For fear of judgment, I didn't speak out and it pushed me further and further away from my dreams. I was fortunate enough to have a scholarship for university from the OHL, so I stepped into the "Uni life" to go to school and play hockey at Brock University.
Arriving at school I didn't know what to expect, and all I could think about was "here we go again, hiding it all". The team was a mature group of men and I was comfortable the day I got to school. I began to open up, not hiding who I was or what I was fighting, and I became one with my fight with anxiety, and understood I'm not alone. This step began a major leap forward in conquering my daily battle, and writing this is my next step to accepting what it is I have to deal with.
The reason I am writing this is so that people may understand that it is really is okay to speak out and ask for help. Directed especially to those in the hockey community, you are not alone, and do not let it get in the way of your goals, because I did, and it is something I will always regret. I've learned now that seeking help is not soft, it is the strongest thing you can do. Talking with someone who can help will benefit anyone with anxiety moving forward. To this day I still deal with anxiety, yet after seeking help, I have learned to cope with it through relaxation techniques such as controlled breathing in high stressed times and meditation; all of which have been making the days easier and easier to get through.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story as I hope it will help you, or someone close to you in finding a way to speak out and not keep your anxiety hidden.