#WhyIRide: Anastasia’s Story
Anastasia Bucsis is a Canadian long track speed skater and competed at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics and the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. She is the Ambassador for the 2016 Calgary Region – Ride Don’t Hide event and a part of the RBC Olympians program.
My name is Anastasia Bucsis and I have been a long track speed skater for the past 23 years of my life. Born and raised in Calgary, I recognize that I am very fortunate product of the Olympic spirit and legacy deeply engrained within the city. I have called the cold cement walls of the Olympic Oval “home” for majority of my life. Within my career, I have lived some of the highest highs and have had to weather some of the lowest lows. I’ve had the privilege of wearing the Maple Leaf at 50 World Cups, six World Championships, and two Olympic Winter Games. I also suffer from depression.
My diagnosis came twelve months before the Sochi Olympics, and it quite frankly derailed my world. Although it shouldn’t have come as a surprise, I was left feeling confused, alone and utterly helpless. I was left to myself, questioning what seemed to be every decision I had made within the last few years. For a myriad of reasons that seemed to form into a perfect storm, I had dug myself slowly into a trench in which one I stopped ‘digging’, I recognized that I was too deep to climb out unassisted.
Growing up and identifying as an athlete – with the understanding that adversity is something you plough through with a “bigger, faster, stronger” mentality – it was an absolute blow to my ego once I accepted the need to ask for help. Although there was relief in the initial diagnosis, that indeed, I was suffering from clinical depression and not just feeling sorry for myself. I mean, what could a kid from Calgary, with the best friends and family anyone could ever ask for, whose job is to skate around in circles while travelling the world and competing at the Olympics be sad about. It was difficult to accept that I couldn’t ‘fix’ the situation on my own.
It was with that realization that I truly began to recognize the importance of accepting the need to ask for help, coupled with surrounding myself with a strong and balanced community in my pursuit of bettering my mental health. The upcoming Ride Don’t Hide event is the perfect example of people coming together while creating a strong network of a safe space and positive discussion regarding mental health issues.
I’ve had the privilege of competing athletically for the great majority of my life and I have experienced, firsthand, the undeniable connection between mental and physical health. Merging physical activity, community and mental health initiatives lays a strong foundation for a bright future eliminated of stigma. Life is not always easy, but it’s always a gift and events like Ride Don’t Hide make it that much more tangible to recognize that we’re not alone and that we’re all working towards a brighter future.