My name is Anastasia Bucsis, and I have been a long track speed skater for the past 24 years of my life. I’ve competed in two Olympics and have represented Canada for almost a decade internationally. I also struggle with anxiety and depression, and was the Olympic Ambassador for last year’s ‘Ride Don’t Hide’. I’ve jumped at the chance to contribute and ride again this year as the CMHA is an organization close to my heart, and I’m proud to participate in this event. Although I have struggled greatly with anxiety and depression, I somewhat embarrassingly still find it difficult to open up and discuss mental health issues.
If I’m being candid: it’s a heavy topic and one which is easily silenced and swept under the rug. My struggle with anxiety and depression is a huge chapter in my life and story- and although it defined almost four years of my career (between Vancouver 2010 and Sochi 2014) I still struggle to find the right words, sometimes still questioning my own qualifications in regards of furthering this discussion. Although I logically know it’s of great importance to further the conversation and help erode the stigma surrounding mental health issues… emotionally, it’s more often than not a daunting and exhausting conversation to start.
This is why I’m a proud ambassador for our ‘Ride Don’t Hide’ event. I draw strength from seeing so many faces authentically come together; I draw strength from seeing others allow themselves to be vulnerable and to connect on a human level; I draw strength from seeing families come together and further this conversation regardless of age or background. It inspires me to see us all come together and to work towards a brighter future free of silence and stigma.
I still struggle with my mental health, but our ‘Ride Don’t Hide’ event grants me the opportunity and privilege to realize that I am not alone, and that our similarities far outweigh our differences. That we are strongest together and that furthering this discussion grants us the privilege and power of not only helping those currently struggling but also the peace of mind in the fact that we’re ushering in a brighter future for our next generation.
I’m honoured to be this year’s Olympic Ambassador and I can’t wait to get back on my bike and connect with all the other riders so passionately working towards ushering in a brighter future.