Ask any NHL scout who has ever seen veteran goaltender Robin Lehner play over the course of his 10 year pro career and you’ll likely hear complaints about his lack of consistency and his frustrating ability to lose his focus. Well… given what he’s gone through the past 10 years, maybe we should be shocked that he can even maintain a pro hockey career at all. That’s because Lehner profiles his history with drug addiction and alcholism, as well as his battles with mental illness and suicidal thoughts in a self penned article for The Athletic released earlier this week.
The New York Islanders goaltender, who recently signed a one year deal with the team after another disappointing season with the Buffalo Sabres, is clean and sober after a stint with the NHLPA’s Substance Abuse Program earlier this offseason and is coming forward to share his story with others now in the hopes that it can help motivate other NHLers who struggle with the same problems.
You can read the full article from Lehner below, or scan some of the most poignant quotes even further below:
I was drunk. I wanted to kill myself. I was extremely close multiple times. The battle playing hockey was nothing compared to the battle inside my brain. It was at its worst.
Since the new year began I had been feeling severely depressed and my drinking increased. I was heavily drinking a case of beer a day just to settle the demons in my mind and then took pills to sleep. I was self-treating myself because I could not be inside my own head by myself. The thoughts of ending it all… it was real and close.
I was addicted to alcohol and drugs and I didn’t want to stop. I couldn’t.It was true powerlessness. I was aware of the pain this caused my family, but still could not stop doing it. I wasn’t in control of my own mind.
So, I was set up to go to Arizona to one of the best treatment centers in North America for addiction and trauma. In the airport ready to fly, I sat by myself with a hoodie over my head drinking beers. At that point I thought I had only two options. Get on that plane and do this or end this once and for all now.
Five weeks into treatment and I was diagnosed bipolar 1 with manic phases.
Family didn’t matter. Nothing did. I was always so paranoid in this stage. I felt that everyone was against me and wanted to hurt me. I was constantly angry, irritated and tired. The depression didn’t just affect my mind but also my body. I was physically hurting every day. I didn’t want to practice. I barely wanted to play in games.
The therapists went through my whole life and opened my eyes to what truly happened. For truly the first time, I found religion. I was baptized in Arizona during this time. This new faith is what helped me through.
Today, I am here a happy man that is, for the first time, trying to live in the moment, day-to-day.
When I saw my kids for the first time after this… I broke down. I was ready to really to be a husband and dad for the first time. I was finally ready to love and feel love.
I am truly ready to battle now.