Eleven-year NHL veteran Colin Wilson discussed his battle with obsessive-compulsive disorder in The Players' Tribune on Thursday.
Wilson, who was a first-round pick of the Nashville Predators in 2008, was diagnosed with OCD in 2010 during his rookie season. He found out in a meeting with his parents, Predators general manager David Poile, assistant GM Paul Fenton, and team psychologist Gary Solomon. They had picked up on his unusual pre-flight routine.
"I had to clean up all the trash around our gate," Wilson wrote. "Every single wrapper, piece of plastic, you name it. Into the trash. Then I had to be the last passenger on the plane, no matter what. Then, finally, I actually had to talk to the pilots. It didn’t have to be about anything specific, but I had to at least talk to them. After I did all that, I felt safe to fly."
At the time, Wilson admits he didn't take the diagnosis seriously, even though there were other signs.
"I went from obsessing over injuries off the ice to thinking I was going to get hurt every time I stepped on it - thinking I'd get hurt every shift," he wrote. "Or feeling like my skates weren't tied properly. I'd have to stay in the locker room and tie them over and over again, as tight as I could, until my hands bled. And that was just a short-term fix. For years, I felt like I was skating on stilts because my skates never felt right."
Wilson also suffered from insomnia. He took Xanax and Seroquel to help him sleep, but those pills - combined with alcohol and his untreated OCD - caused him to hit rock bottom during Nashville's run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2017.
"In the Cup finals, I was barely able to function. I was running on fumes, my head felt like it was on fire - I felt like I was going insane," he wrote.
That offseason, Wilson began taking psychedelics "and other similar medicines," which he credits for helping his recovery.
After eight years in Music City, Wilson signed with the Avalanche and spent three seasons in Colorado. However, he only played nine games last year. He needed double hip surgery in December but his hips didn't heal properly and he struggled to walk, so he recently underwent another surgery. He admitted his playing career is "probably over."
Wilson recorded 286 career points across 632 games played. His best season came in 2014-15 with the Preds when he tallied 20 goals and 22 assists.