Hirsch, who rose to fame after backstopping Canada to a silver medal at the 1994 Olympic Winter Games, played for four NHL teams in a pro career that saw some ups and plenty of downs.
The piece begins with Hirsch describing an ugly moment when suicidal thoughts nearly made him drive off a cliff near Kamloops in the summer of 1994.
Hirsch battled panic attacks and suicidal urges as he began his NHL career with the New York Rangers.
He was traded to the Canucks in 1995, and during his second season with the team, his problems persisted and he finally confided with the team trainer.
“In the ’90s, you simply didn’t talk about mental health,” he wrote. “It wasn’t that people in hockey didn’t care about one another. They did — but it wasn’t the culture back then. And while things have improved in recent years, it still isn’t the culture.”
Fortunately, the team put Hirsch in touch with a psychologist. Eventually, he was diagnosed with OCD. Being able to put a name to what he had been feeling came as a huge relief, and he began the long journey towards treating his condition.
Hirsch thanked former Canucks teammates Kirk McLean, Dave Babych, Alexander Mogilny, Russ Courtnall and Trevor Linden for their support.
Hirsch, who now works as an analyst for NHL TV, shared his story in an effort to dispel some of the myths about the condition and encourage others to seek help.
“In our society, OCD has become shorthand for anybody who carries around a little bottle of hand sanitizer,” he stated. “Yes, compulsive hand-washing can be one of the signs of OCD. However, there are many different variations of OCD, and many of the compulsions are purely mental — you can’t see the disease just by looking at a person.
“I dug a hole for four years. The average person suffers with OCD for six to nine years before being diagnosed. Once you’re in that deep, dark hole, it takes years to fill it back in. It took a long time for me to dig out of mine, but I’m in a much better place now. There is help, and there is hope,” he wrote.