A Special Event Close to My Heart:
My name is Elizabeth Manley and I suffered from mental health issues. You may recall that I won the Silver Medal for Canada at the 1988 Olympics in Calgary. The Olympics was the highlight of my career and maybe even my life but it didn’t come without some serious hardships. Training my entire life and giving up so much of what we call a normal life I found myself as a teen with a lot of emotional issues. My desire to be the best in the world at such an young age and going through family changes took its toll and I entered my journey to the Olympic s in 1983 suffering from serious emotional issues that I couldn’t understand or address.
I shut myself off from the world and was too scared to tell anyone how I was feeling because I was supposed to be a tough athlete. I was told to “Don’t complain” “Push through the emotion” “Never Give up”. I tried to hard to follow that coaching but within a few months I lost all of my hair and gained 30 lbs in water retention weight. No one knew what was happening to me, least of all me!
Sadly, I just couldn’t cope and so I did the unthinkable … I quit skating. I quit my dream of being an Olympian. But being a high performance athlete, I had special access to the medical community. I saw, Doctor after Doctor. Finally, I was diagnosed as clinically depressed and, at the tender age of 17, I was told I was having a nervous breakdown. I felt like my life could not get any lower. I was paralyzed with this disease. Finding help for my disease was very difficult in the 80’s but I finally did through something called Talk Therapy. I was scared to say the least but I committed myself to getting the real me back and it was harder than any physical work out I could ever have had. But I succeeded and finally returned to the sport I loved so much as the real me. I won the Olympic Silver Medal in Calgary 4 years later.
There are thousands of teens across Canada today enduring what I had to endure — alone. They are too scared to ask for help or are afraid of being labeled with mental issues. The stigma is one of our greatest challenges right now. Our teens are helplessly on a path of life destruction and some are even taking their precious lives out of utter despair. My passion is to reach out to the by hosting this event, Elizabeth Manley and Friends, and direct the proceeds to towards two very powerful resources focused on Teen Mental Health. Our children are our future and they need to know we are here to help. No one should live in silence and YSB Youth Services of Ottawa, and the Sens Foundation (supporting D.I.F.D.) are two organizations that provide the help our teens need.
You can join me, Elizabeth Manley, and my Friends by participating as a sponsor or by buying tickets to this great event on February 14, 2015. I look forward to seeing you there!
1988 Olympic and World Silver medalist,
1988 Olympic Freestyle Champion
3-time Canadian Champion
Member of the Order of Canada
Member of the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame
A portion of proceeds will go to D.I.F.D. courtesy of The Ottawa Senator's Foundation, and to the Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa.