Kendra Fisher, still laughs as she remembers standing in the Kincardine arena at 4 years old, watching her big brother playing hockey, turning to her parents, and proclaiming, “I don’t want to figure skate anymore. When I grow up to be a boy, I’m going to play hockey.” And after realizing that goalies get to play the whole game and that there was always a chance to be the “hero”, she settled on her position and quickly discovered that girls can play too!
And so it began, a journey towards the only dream Kendra had ever known, the dream of pulling that red and white Team Canada jersey over her head, stepping onto the Olympic stage, and becoming part of the golden tradition of Canadian Hockey.
In 1999, while at try-outs for Team Canada, Kendra realized she could no longer hide that something was wrong. After a discussion with her coaches, she made the seemingly impossible decision to walk away from her dream in order to seek help, but not before being told that she had already been selected to join Team Canada.
With Team Canada’s help, Kendra was guided down a road that nobody had yet considered, and after several appointments with a sports Psychologist, a psychiatrist, and Doctors, Kendra was diagnosed with a Generalized Anxiety Disorder, severe Panic Disorder, Clinical Depression, Agoraphobia and OCD. So began a whole new journey, a fight for her life.
The first 5 years of this journey were filled with hopelessness, isolation, and darkness. Although surrounded by support and access to resources, Kendra was faced with a sense of pointlessness that she struggled to overcome. And then she made a decision, she wanted more. She wanted to live. And more than that, she wanted a life worth living.
It took the next 5 years for Kendra to achieve a life of recovery. It took 5 years to learn about what resources were available, and in that time, she also learned about all of the ways she could be helping herself. Kendra often speaks of her greatest achievement in getting to this place in her life, and that was her ability to keep it a secret. Kendra, like so many, was embarrassed by her Mental Illness.
Until one day when Kendra had a realization, she was part of the problem. Her silence was exactly the reason that people couldn’t realize that there is help, that there is hope. She had learned to live happily and successfully with what felt like a death sentence, and she was embarrassed to let others know. In that moment, she vowed to never be a part of the problem again, and so began her new journey.
Shortly after coming out with her story, Kendra was introduced to the many struggles facing others like herself and she was determined to be a part of the change. Having come to realize the importance of lived experience and shared hope, the Kendra has dedicated herself to helping others find tomorrow.
When Kendra started sharing her journey with others, she was amazed by the response she received. And then the simple truth became so clear, we are not meant to get through life alone. Sometimes it only takes one person, a subtle gesture, a kind word, and somebody else may find a reason to keep fighting.