By Doug Kennedy
Knowing Kendra Fisher from a young age and seeing her grow into the person she is today, is quite amazing.
She was a really good goalie when I coached her in peewee hockey in the early 90s. She played for Kincardine Minor Hockey up to the midget level, when she moved on to AAA with the Grey Bruce Highlanders.
If you know Fisher, her top three priorities in life have always been family, mental health initiatives and hockey – both on the ice and inline.
In the mid 90s, a group of girls put an all-star hockey team together and travelled to different cities to play in tournaments. By the time Fisher moved to Toronto in her last year of high school, Team Canada had already made contact with her and told her to transition into women’s hockey.
She played one year with the junior Aeros. After that, she moved up to the senior Areos and played with them until about ten years ago. I will never forget going to one of the Areos games and walking away so impressed about the level of hockey she was playing.
In 1999 she was named to Team Canada, the same day she was diagnosed with a mental illness she had been battling the year before this.
“The year leading up to it, I had been getting increasingly sicker with no diagnosis,” said Fisher. “Unfortunately, as is common with mental illness, it wasn’t easy to determine what I was dealing with until they ruled out all the physical possibilities.”
Knowing now what we know about mental illness, she could’ve been diagnosed when she was much younger.
Once she was diagnosed, she spent the first five years barely functioning, because she had no idea how to manage what she was dealing with.
She took the medicine that was prescribed, and saw the psychologist they told her to see. At the time, she was living with severe panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, clinical depression, agoraphobia and panic attacks.
Fisher said “It took me five years to finally get to a place where I realized I didn’t see a point anymore, and that day I somehow found it in me to start advocating for myself. It wasn’t until then that I learned about all the resources and coping strategies I would need to find my way to a place of recovery. Mental illness is not something I will ever be cured of, but I certainly know how to manage it and live a very happy life with it.”
“Given everything that’s happening these days, so many people are finding themselves struggling with mental health issues for the first time, and those who were already desperate for resources before the pandemic are now further in crisis, Fisher continued. “It is important now more than ever to make sure that we are reaching out to one another and checking in. It does not require a PHD or certification to be there for somebody and the most valuable thing we can offer as a support is our time.”
“We have lost so many people in this area to suicide over the years, it’s a conversation that we are still terrified to have and that needs to change. Not in an effort to normalize it, but in an attempt to educate one another around the severity of the crisis and to ensure we are flooding those in need with support. So few people are even aware that we’ve had four suicides in Kincardine in the last month and yet so many people believe we’re doing enough. Until we create a culture within every community where it is okay to stand up and say I’m not okay and I need help, the risk of this outcome is present.”
Through Fisher’s Facebook page, she has vowed to stay present and help find supports for those struggling, and she will continue to do so. For anybody that wants to get involved, follow Fisher’s page and join a growing community of people who are continuing to show up for one another, day after day.
The last 10 years she has played in-line hockey for Team Canada, where she travelled the world and won two world championships. Throughout her career, she has won many provincial and national titles playing hockey.
Fisher, a firefighter, lives with her partner, Kristy, and their two children, Finley, four, and Bodhi, one and a half years.
She speaks publicly to various school boards to promote greater awareness on mental health. She shares her story on her personal social media accounts as a means of helping others to cope with their own mental health woes. Mentally Fit is her own business that she uses to speak on behalf of mental health initiatives.
Fisher puts her heart out there to try to help people through their mental health issues. She is truly and an amazing person that I am proud to call a good friend.