In The Players’ Tribune today, a first-person piece appeared written by ex-Avalanche forward Colin Wilson, which detailed a lifelong struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder.
The piece details how Wilson, from a young age, started obsessing about things like counting the numbers of trees around him and over a fear of flying, and things progressed into a more serious form of the disorder which led him down a path to alcohol and prescription drug dependence.
Most of the serious problems Wilson detailed predated his time with the Avalanche, including the time in which Wilson said was the worst – the period around when the Nashville Predators played Pittsburgh in the 2017 Stanley Cup Finals.
Wrote Wilson: “All I can say really is that, during the Stanley Cup finals in 2017, when we were playing the Penguins — I hit bottom.
My brain blew up.
I was a shell of the person I am today.
For the three or so years leading up to that point, I had been taking Xanax and Seroquel to help me sleep. One is addictive and gets you high, the other I would refer to as a horse tranquilizer, because it would knock me out. One night I would take Xanax, the next Seroquel. During that playoff run, I had started partying more as well, to numb the pain. The combination of those pills, mixed with alcohol, and years of untreated OCD … I found rock bottom.
Those had been prescribed to me to help me. But they didn’t do that at all. They made me lose myself. The stressors I had — the OCD, the lack of sleep, the pressure of playoff hockey — those pills just seemed to amplify all that and drive me to a place I never wanted to get to.”
In my time covering Wilson as a player, I never witnessed any of the OCD things he said were a problem earlier in his career, such as tying his skates to the point where his hands bled. I did talk to him a couple of times in depth about meditation, and how it had helped him. He even suggested an app for me to try – as I’m someone who has had a form of OCD in my life, too, which led to sleep problems and negative thoughts.
Here’s a story I wrote in 2019, about how meditation, yoga and float tanks had helped him.
Wilson also talked about how the use of psychedelics had/have helped him, and his hopes for doing more to help people who struggle with the same things. He hopes to open businesses in that respect.
Wilson also says, in the piece, that his playing days are likely over, partially because of ongoing problems with his hips – both of which were operated on last year, but didn’t heal properly.
Bravo to Wilson for sharing his story, and I encourage everyone to read it by clicking on the link above.