The cardiac event suffered by Rich Peverley during the Columbus Blue Jackets game has had a significant impact on it seems everyone involved in one way or the other. One of the people visibly shaken by the even was Stars forward Alex Chiasson. He was hospitalized after the incident due to an anxiety attack. The reaction has been mostly supportive, but not unanimously.
Some have suggested that Chiasson is hurting his team by removing himself at this juncture. Others have said that he needs to "man up", deal with it, or some other throw away phrase that minimizes the severity of anxiety-related attacks. These people have likely never dealt with a severe anxiety episode personally or through association.
Ignorance is driving those comments. Most people don't understand what it means to really have a panic attack. For Chiasson to need to be hospitalized the attack had to be significant on some level.
I have personally never had a panic attack, and I don't have anxiety. Someone very close to me does though. They once described their most severe panic attacks in a good bit of detail to me.
Basically, imagine losing control of your mind. You feel like you are dying, but you know in your mind you really aren't. Your heart is beating very fast which makes your breathing escalate. The muscles in your chest get very tight and sore from the stress of the attack. Your body cycles through highs and lows rapidly as endorphins are released which adds to the feelings of being out on control. It's also incredibly exhausting.
Imagine all of this happening repeatedly, unchecked, with limited ability to make it stop. Admittedly it is very hard to relate to if you have never had one, but try to add another layer to the visual. Imagine needing to perform the next night as an athlete in peak physical condition after being mentally and emotionally drained from a panic attack which likely kept you awake for most of the night until medicine in the hospital helped settle your mind.
If Alex Chiasson needed to take a week off he would have been well within his rights, and Lindy Ruff knows that for better or worse he'll continue to wear his emotions on his sleeve throughout.
"I think you saw the other night with the way he handled an emotional event, that's his personality," Ruff told the Dallas Morning News. "He's a kid who has a lot of passion. It's probably something he'll deal with his entire career.''
The reality though is that it is none of our business, and most importantly it isn't his fault. Anxiety and panic-related issues are embarrassing for those who suffer from them, but suffering from either is a fact of life for many people you wouldn't expect. The minority reaction Chiasson has received is one of the reasons people feel embarrassed about having anxiety. They know how ridiculous it looks to people who don't understand what they have gone though.
Chiasson knows how it looks for him to need to miss a game while his teammates played on with Peverley in the hospital. He doesn't need others to continuously point it out. It doesn't make him weak. It doesn't make him less of a person. Whether he deals with anxiety or he had an isolated incident is irrelevant to the story. The point is that this event happened, and it is just as serious as a physical injury.
Chiasson needs to take whatever time he needs to heal properly regardless of how it looks to the outside public.
Good for the Stars and good on Lindy Ruff for allowing that to happen.
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