Following the tragic Humboldt Broncos crash, what challenges did you face?
I think the biggest challenge was the mental journey that I was scared to embark on. I had never gone through trauma or grief and never understood how complex mental health is. So, for me, it wasn’t an easy thing to be able to put myself first and try to take care of the pain and struggle that was going on inside my mind. We are grieving the loss of 16 incredible people, and there’s no magic formula for that.
What brought you hope during your recovery?
All I’ve ever hoped for is that my being in this space and becoming vulnerable will make everyone we lost proud. Holding onto that has been something I will never look past. I know they’re still here, and I know they’re watching, so the best I can do is try. Try to push through on the bad days, try to make a small impact, try to give back, try to take care of myself. And if trying on a certain day didn’t work, then I can try again tomorrow. This is very much a take it day-by-day thing for me, and that’s okay.
Why do you believe mental health is just as important as physical health?
As an athlete, I always had the misconception that taking care of my physical health would result in my mental health and emotional health to follow. But that’s completely wrong. Your physical, mental and emotional health go hand in hand. And being able to be proactive about your mental health really can result in increased performance in your physical health as well. It’s never easy to put yourself first and focus on what you need, but being able to acknowledge when you need to focus on your mental health or mental fitness is a vital aspect of your growth as an individual. This life is hard, and sometimes it doesn’t make sense, but the least you can do for yourself is consistently put in the work and take the necessary steps into your own personal journey because difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations.
What inspired you to start your mental health awareness community, Not Alone Co., and help others?
Not Alone Co. was never something I anticipated doing. And the main thing that ultimately inspired me was the fact that many individuals long for a community, especially in an uncomfortable space like mental health. For us, we wanted to help facilitate those tough conversations with your loved ones that you may not normally have. Those tough conversations of vulnerability that I personally find help strengthen your relationships with the people you are having those conversations with. Our 3 pillars are Community, Conversation and Vulnerability and every day, I hope we are helping people take care of themselves step by step with the messaging on the apparel. Another main piece of inspiration for Not Alone Co. was being able to give back. We have been able to donate portions of the proceeds back to various mental health charities and foundations, and that is something that is so fulfilling for us. So, thank you to our Not Alone community for helping us hopefully create something special.
For anyone struggling to put their personal well-being at the forefront, what advice can you offer?
Take that first step. I always thought there was a right or wrong way to go about it, but there
really isn’t. Everyone has a story, and everyone’s story is different, so find what works for you and embrace that. Taking that first step displays an incredible amount of courage, strength, and bravery, so don’t forget that. Mental health isn’t a battle to be won, it is a journey to continue walking and your journey matters, no matter how big or small you may think it is. And importantly, be proud of yourself. You are making steps every day, and you are here, and that shouldn’t get overlooked, so just remember how far you’ve come.