Tyler Smith

April 6, 2018 changed our lives, in many different ways. It led me into a spiral of mental and emotional pain that I never thought would happen. The physical recovery took its toll. But the mental and emotional journey is something I am now prepared to be in for the long haul of life. A journey that’s included an incredible amount of ups and downs, growths and setbacks, and also a massive amount of self-reflection and internal lessons learned.

From a regular Canadian junior hockey player who grew up knowing that coming to the rink means putting your work boots on and leaving your emotions at the door. To now understanding that no matter where you come from or what sport you play, everybody is fighting a battle that you may have no idea about.

Before the accident, I took relationships, conversations and my own mental wellness for granted. I didn’t realize how powerful it is to have a meaningful conversation with somebody in your corner, someone who cares about you. That shame, that weakness, that judgement always led me to bottling things up and chucking them on the backburner of my mind. But when you really think about it, being vulnerable, whether that be in front of teammates, friends, family, whomever, is really quite a courageous thing to do that requires a ton of strength.

So be open, let that weight off your shoulders and heart, because wow it can feel so very good. The ability to now see and feel the importance of a meaningful and powerful conversation with another individual is something I won’t take for granted now. To make that first step. To initiate healing within yourself. To be proud of yourself for putting yourself first and acknowledging that self-care is not selfish. Now that’s a tremendous thing to do.