During his 11-year career, Mark Rypien was diagnosed with only two concussions. However, in 2012, the former Washington Redskin joined the class-action lawsuit of former players, which wound up settling with the NFL for nearly a billion dollars for failing to inform them about the long-term effects of head trauma. The list of people who’ve admitted to suffering from adverse side effects due to repetitive and big hits rendered during their playing days has grown exponentially since then.
On Friday, Rypien disclosed the depths of the his mental health issues to Spokane, Washington’s NBC-affiliate, KHQ.
“I suffer from a complex stew of mental health conditions,” Rypien says. “Dark places, depression, anxiety, addictions, poor choices, poor decisions, brought about by dozens of concussions and thousands of sub-concussive injuries from playing this sport.”
When asked whether he regrets playing football, Rypien responded candidly in the negative.
“I would change it. I don’t enjoy going through the strategies, and the medicine to just try to live a normal life,” Rypien told KHQ. “As much as I love sports. I’d try something else. I’d become a really good swimmer. I’d become a really good tennis player. I’d become something. I’d do something that kept me from the hits, the concussive and sub-concussive hits that I took.”
Rypien’s decision to speak up about his battle with a “stew of mental health conditions,” was triggered by the January suicide of quarterback Tyler Hilinski, who was a backup quarterback at his alma mater, Washington State University.
Rypien’s cousin, Ryan Rypien, also played in the NHL and committed suicide in 2011. In 2012, Rypien attempted suicide on his daughter Angie’s birthday. He also vowed to donate his brain to science to test his brain for CTE. Unfortunately, Rypien says problems with his cognitive functions have already been detected.
“It’s not a normal brain, that’s what they’ve told me,” Rypien told KHQ. “I got a full neurological scan.”
Rypien hopes that his story will convince others to speak out and wants his legacy to include sparking a new movement focused on mental health in Spokane.
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