‘The stigma must be broken:’ Paralympic athlete shares mental health struggles in the hopes of helping others

A Paralympic athlete opened up about his struggles with mental health in Newmarket on Sunday.

Gold medal winner Paul Rosen shared his decade-long battle with mental health in the hopes of reducing the stigma of mental health.

Rosen was forced into retirement from hockey in 1975 following an injury that ended his career out on the ice.

“From that point on in 1975 to 1997, I just lived a life of a guy with a brutal leg injury, just fighting surgery after surgery,” Rosen said.

Rosen had his leg amputated in 1999 after he got an infection while undergoing knee replacement surgery. He said he then fell into a downward spiral of being addicted to painkillers.

“The hardest thing is the pain. The pain takes you on a downward spiral,” Rosen says. “I started a life of addiction, and that’s the thing with so many hockey players nowadays, male and female, when they get an injury, it leads them down that pain killer destruction path.”

For Rosen, who was once in the spotlight during his hockey career, his forced retirement affected his outlook on himself.

“I say that the equivalent is like going into a massive room and turning the lights out,” he says. “You have this life of excitement, and everybody loves you and wants your autograph to it’s all over in the snap of a finger.”

Rosen says he attempted suicide in 2019, which eventually led him to a position where he had the opportunity to use his voice to reach others.

“We must break the stigma. Suicide, addiction, mental health, it’s all in a situation where it can happen to anybody,” the Paralympian says. “All you need is that wrong turn, and you’ve gone down that path. And that’s what I want people to understand. The stigma must be broken.”

Rosen travels the country sharing his story as an ambassador for the National Benefit Authority.

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