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Clint and Joanie Malarchuk on CTV’s Canada AM in 2014. Courtesy of CTVNews.ca

Sidebar: ‘He looked at me and said, “Look what you made me do.”’

Former NHL goalie Clint Malarchuk battled depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder for years and chronicled it all in his book, The Crazy Game. In 2008, in a fit of depression, he shot himself in the head. His wife, Joanie Malarchuk, was sitting beside him at the time. She talked to Denise Davy in a phone interview from Nevada.

By Denise Davy

Q What happened the day of the shooting?

A I’d stayed away the night before. He was just getting to the point where he knew he needed help but all the help he’d tried to get wasn’t working. He didn’t want to be committed to a hospital. I was exhausted. I really just needed a break. I planned on going to my first Al-Anon meeting, but he kept calling and calling the whole night. I came home after that, and it was unusually quiet. I walked outside and started looking for him. He was sitting by himself and had one of the .22s [calibre rifles] with him. He was just sitting there looking out with a beer in his hand. He looked beside himself. He was arguing with his own head, with his own thoughts and couldn’t turn it off.

Q Did he see you?

A Yes, I talked to him. I said, “What’s going on? How are you doing today?” He said, “How do you think I’m doing. Look at me.” He started ranting and getting upset. “I can’t stand to live in my head anymore.” And that’s when he just kind of — he didn’t really even shoot himself, he just kind of shoved it under his chin and said, “This is what I wish would happen,” and it went off.

I think he was as surprised as I was. He looked at me and said, “Look what you made me do.” (Joanie called 911. Police and paramedics arrived and took Clint to the hospital.)

Q Was that a breaking point?

A That was a huge breaking point. I’d been calling doctors to try and get him to see someone and they’d say, “We have an appointment in two months.” I couldn’t even get him in to see an emergency doctor. One doctor put him on too much medication.

Q What’s been the toughest part about living with someone who has a mental health disorder?

A Before he shot himself, the hardest part was just not knowing what was going to happen that day.

Q What happened after the shooting?

A He was in rehab for six months. His new counsellor says there’s a lot more going on here than I think we all realize. We figured out that the medication he’d been on 15, 16, 17 years ago, he never got it checked. (Clint had been taking an antidepressant for more than 15 years for anxiety and was also on sleeping pills.) He hadn’t really gotten it checked [for efficacy] so he’d started self-medicating with alcohol. I was told later that the combination of what he was taking was not helping him and may have been making him worse. Now he goes and sees a doctor every six months and is much more conscious of looking after himself.

Q What advice can you offer to spouses who are in the same situation?

A Get information about it. The NHL sent me to the Betty Ford Centre for the family week, and I learned about mental health. I quit taking a lot of things so personally. [Previously] when he would get upset and argue with himself, I would take it personally. After listening to all these spouses, they were all saying the same things that Clint was. That made me realize this actually is a disease and this is what it does to a person.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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