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Writing a book a form of mental health healing for former pro hockey player

Steve Seftel, who grew up in Kitchener, will release 'Shattered Ice' later this summer

Steve Seftel has many stories to tell.

While it's not easy to talk about, addressing his battle with mental health is one of them.

Seftel, a former pro hockey player from Kitchener, will be releasing his first book later this summer and while his mental health is not the sole focus, writing - "Shattered Ice" - did help in his healing.

At age 50 and around the time he started writing it, the husband and father of two was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

Sometimes it was even difficult to get out of bed, explained Seftel.

His OCD led to intrusive thoughts, anxiety and what he called the "most frightening form of OCD," -- panic attacks.

It was after going through what he said was - "a real difficult time" - that he knew he needed to seek treatment.

"I've seen my medical practitioner ... a psychotherapist and a naturopath and with that holistic healthcare, I know now what I'm dealing with and I have the support of my family, so together - 'that beast' - we're fighting. That's really where I'm at today." Seftel told "It kind of stole my hockey career, my college degree and my job."

Speaking of his job, Seftel is doing a lot better and is hoping to return to work at the Toyota plant in Cambridge sometime this summer.

"Definitely have to credit my wife who has been 'a rock' for me and my family, my entire family, been very supportive. I guess that's what I would say to other people who are dealing with a similar situation. You can get better, there is help out there and you just have to look for it and find it ... you really do need the support of your family. Probably the biggest mistake I made through the years was trying to do this on my own and that just doesn't work, you need support." Seftel said.  

He first noticed something wasn't right at age 17, during his rookie season with the OHL's Kingston Canadians (now Frontenacs).

Seftel went to see a doctor, who could find nothing wrong with him, so he pushed on with his hockey career.

And hockey was something he was really good at.

It led to Seftel being a second round draft pick of the NHL's Washington Capitals in 1986. He would play four games in the NHL, plus three full seasons with the AHL's Baltimore Skipjacks (Washington's farm team at the time).

When he first started writing - "Shattered Ice" - he said it was "very dark" and after consulting with his editor, Seftel decided that wasn't the book he wanted to write.

He describes hockey as the "pure joy" in his life. "The hockey community was my safe place. Whether it was Queensmount Arena, Don McLaren Arena, or Kingston Memorial Centre ... that community was my support system." Seftel explained.

"When I left hockey at age 24, I pushed them all away and I realized that was a mistake. That community was there ... because what I was dealing with I couldn't face them, cause there's some shame and guilt, going along with the mental illness. But now that I've reached out to that community again, they're still there and they're more than happy to help. So I want to tell the story about the joy of the game."

Seftel taps into that joy in the first few chapters of his book, where he writes about his experience playing on the Kitchener Bauer Krauts and Kitchener Greenshirts.

"You go along this journey and you meet so many people. There's a story about Wayne Gretzky (who Seftel idolized growing up). There's a very fun story about Don Cherry ... I've always been a fan of Coach's Corner and it really just chronicles my whole career, my first NHL game ... there's a lot of great stories."

Seftel is planning to release his book in late August.

It will be available for purchase on his website and Amazon.

He's also planning to do some book signings at Indigo stores in Kitchener, Guelph and Kingston.

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