EM: What are your feelings on the current state of the world, as many are feeling lost and hopeless?
TF: I work in trauma, mental health, and addiction; all three are connected. This (covid-19 pandemic) is the most traumatic thing to happen since World War II. Anyone who experiences trauma will also experience emotional pain and suffering (i.e. mental health challenges). To me, the importance of staying connected closely to people is understated because talking about feelings is a stigma which we mental health activists fight through every day. These are challenges that we unfortunately can’t figure out on our own; we can’t outthink mental illness. What helps you get out of a tough place is the ability to talk and share. Using meditation, yoga, and exercise can help exponentially.
EM: Can social media help?
TF: Yes, if used in a good way. Conspiracy theories can put you in a bad place! Apps like Calm
and The Tapping Solution
are ones I use when I’m struggling. Their technology is great.
EM: Lots of men are having a tough time right now due to covid-19, with finances taking a hit and depression kicking in. What are some ways for handling this?
TF: You won’t get well if you don’t try something different. The definition of insanity is the repetition of the same actions while getting the same results, but expecting a different outcome. Change. Get yourself into a comfortable routine every day. Do something for yourself and for your mental illness. “Find Your Five”. Find five people and stay in contact with either one, or all five, on a daily basis, no matter how you feel. Develop a habit of connection. This is the greatest tool helping you overcome mental illness. Depression wants you isolated.
There’s a saying that goes like this: thinking about the past is depression, and thinking about the future is anxiety. The ultimate state of mind is trying to find a place in the present to work on things to keep you focused on today rather than yesterday or tomorrow.
Do this by meditating, exercising, and checking in with people. Get online and involved in a mental health group. When the body is stressed it produces cortisol, which is acid in the system. In the state of stress, no other chemicals work in your body. The way to stop cortisol production is to be connected. Once you are, it will dissipate and allow you to be more aware and present.
There are layers from childhood, adolescence, and adulthood that have caused your body to be in shock. This is trauma. Traumatic experiences can be subtle or extreme, i.e. a breakup, divorce, death in family, being bullied. It’s important to realize there are lots of ways the body can get shocked. It takes work to “un-shock” it. The way to do this is therapy. Talk about what happened to you. If you hold it inside, it can cause emotional and physical problems. People don’t understand that even things like back pain can be coming from emotional shock. It shows up in the body in all different shapes and forms (like brain fog). Internalizing everything and trying to outthink mental illness is a rabbit hole that only get worse. Reaching out and staying connected to people is the best way to overcome this.
EM: Do “real men” cry?
TF: Crying is part of life. Sadness is an emotion we all feel, and crying is a great healing mechanism, which is the reason we have it. Sometimes we need to express that emotion. I grew up in a tough love “suck it up” era and we weren’t allowed to express the emotion of sadness. This caused me a lot of problems, as I suppressed that emotion. When you suppress sadness it turns in to anger, and then rage.
EM: Our page is all about helping to develop strong men physically, mentally and emotionally. What would you say to inspire young men, as you were potentially the “biggest underdog in NHL history”
TF: Everything that happened in my life I manifested myself. From a young age, I knew I would play in the NHL, and nothing would step in my way of achieving this goal. I used positive self talk.
The greatest phrase is “I AM ____”; it’s really important. The need to put in hard work is never going to change.
You need to do the work. I have a couple kids and I teach them that “working the least hours and making the most money” doesn’t work. You need hard work, dedication, and devotion. These things will make you successful. You’ll face adversity, but embrace it. It’s a gift to see how far you can push yourself. I was playing a physical sport and the average size was 6′ 200 pounds. I was 5’6 and 150 pounds. Physics said I wouldn’t have success. But when I looked in the mirror I saw someone highly competitive and willing to do whatever it takes to be successful. It’s all about attitude. If you practice negative self talk, that is exactly what’s going to happen. Talk to yourself in a positive way, and that will happen as well.