I felt a strong emotional response to the suicide of Wade Belak. Personally I have never met the man and I wouldn’t have recognized him, if I ran into him in the street. Even though we had no personal or professional ties, sometimes a much deeper tie can exist. Wade Belak was depressed and I currently live daily with depression. It makes us part of a large diverse but yet connected group of people even though are paths never crossed.
After watching the out pouring of sympathy and respect shown to this man is what drew me into his story. I’ll admit at first when I heard he died I thought, another NHL tough man who could not adjust to everyday life, but this was not the case. Wade Belak was often praised for who he was as a person and not as an NHL athlete. Many people came to his funeral because he touched them on a personal emotional level, not because he touched a puck. This alone tells you that Wade Belak was something special as a human being.
I have never been a sports star but I was able to reflect on what others were saying about Wade when the saw him shortly before his death. They talked about how warm and friendly he was. How he was looking forward to his new career in broadcasting with the Nashville Predators. He spoke highly of his wife and daughters and was looking forward to participating in the Battle of the Blades this year. So many people couldn’t understand how a man with that much happiness and joy for life could take his own life a few days later.
Maybe the Why?
Knowing my life with depression I can speculate on what Wade was feeling. Not everyone dealing with depression sits in the dark and cries, or cannot get out of bed. There is a point in the battle with depression that you begin to feel like you have two personalities. You put on your normal demeanor, larger than life, outwardly friendly personality while dealing with the world. You take interest in others’, their lives how they are doing and talk about how great you are.
The problem is during this whole time there is a second running commentary going on in your mind that only you can hear and feel. You hear yourself thinking that, boy you must be putting on a good show because everybody is laughing and having a good time with you. Heck, even you are laughing and having a good time (on the outside), but you feel like the world’s greatest actor. You begin to feel like you are putting on a show for others and they are not seeing the real you. You are not showing others the real you because it’s not what is expected.
The truth of the matter is, that second running commentary is not the real you. It is the depression that has a hold of the real you and is at the very least, the moment you should seek professional help. When you are laughing, joking and interacting with others while feeling what a fraud you are, seek help. I don’t know if Wade Belak was getting professional help but I cannot help but feel sad for what his outcome was. It seems as if depression continued to lie to him, convincing him that he wasn’t what others seen in him and what he could sometimes see in himself. Depression twisted up the chemicals in his brain until he didn’t realize what was the real him and what wasn’t.
Today I can sit here while writing this and only hope that others get the help that they need so they can live a fulfilling life. Wade is proof that it doesn’t matter how great your life can look from the outside, if the inside isn’t stable it could lead to a disastrous outcome. The only positive outcome from his death would be that others realize what can happen and get help before it is too late. Even though we never met, I am sorry to see you go Wade Belak.