Celebrating Silken Laumann's 'leg-acy'

WhatsOn Apr 22, 2015 by Mike Pearson Stoney Creek News

In 1992, Silken Laumann overcame a terrible rowing accident in what’s been called the greatest comeback in Canadian sports history.

Known for winning bronze in women’s single sculls at the Barcelona Olympics, just 10 weeks after suffering a brutal leg injury, Laumann won three Olympic medals by the time she retired from the sport in 1999.

Years later, she was forced to deal with the equally crippling effects of anxiety, depression and periods of extreme self-loathing.

Laumann shares her powerful story in a critically acclaimed memoir, Unsinkable, which is now available in bookstores.

The Olympian, author and motivational speaker is also appearing in Hamilton next month for a mental health morning, hosted by St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton.

Like many teenagers growing up, Laumann faced personal crises but overcame her obstacles while thriving under pressure. The same can be said of her rowing career, when Laumann shut out every distraction at the sound of the starter’s pistol.

But it wasn’t until later in her life, after giving birth to her own children, that she began to understand how the past had shaped her present life.

Growing up in Mississauga, Ont., Laumann’s memoir documents her often-strained relationship with her mother.

Laumann believes her mother had and is still living with an undiagnosed mental illness, for which she has never sought help.

Laumann said her mother had difficulty connecting with her children and lacked appropriate compassion and empathy.

“I think she was also desperately unhappy so she had a lot of explosive moods,” Laumann explained in a telephone interview from her home in Victoria, B.C. “It was always important to try to read my mom, to try and figure out what kind of mood she was in, but it was kind of impossible to anticipate.”

Despite her mother’s emotional outbursts, Laumann’s upbringing was not unpleasant.

“Growing up in my house, there were a lot of wonderful things. We had an active and creative family, a very expressive family,” Laumann recalled.

Laumann’s youth seemed normal to her, because she had nothing else to compare it to.

But from a very early age, Laumann vowed to create her own reality and live her own kind of life.

It wasn’t until she had her own family that her life reached a crisis point.

Like most parents, Laumann vowed to avoid the mistakes of her parents while raising her own children and step children.

Laumann began “hyper-compensating,” as she calls it, trying to be the perfect mom while working full time, walking her children to school, volunteering in the community and writing a book.

“In retrospect, it should have been no surprise that I came to a crisis point,” said Laumann.

Today she helps people both directly and indirectly, to overcome similar obstacles in their lives.

There are passages in Unsinkable that Laumann admits were difficult to write.

“It was a book that I felt compelled to write, but I also didn’t want to write,” she said. “There was a lot of push and pull in terms of how open to be.”

Laumann soon realized her story was an all-or-nothing proposition. Leaving out key details would amount to telling half-truths.

“When I stand up on a stage and I tell 200 people that anything they need to overcome in their life can be done, that you have that inner strength to do it, they know a little bit more, maybe about what place that’s coming from. They have a little more context. And I guess that’s important to me. At the end of the day, it came down to authenticity,” said Laumann.

Unlike 30 years ago when treatment options were scarce, Laumann is pleased by recent advancements in the field of mental health.

For example, health care professionals now have a greater understanding of how childhood trauma can affect people as adults, she said.

“We’ve got a long way still to go. There’s definitely people who...when they hear that I’ve struggled with depression, they haven’t had that first-hand experience in them and that’s created a judgment within them,” said Laumann.

Laumann is pleased that mental health is now a mainstream topic of conversation.

“Most of us will have some sort of crisis in our life that may trigger depression, anxiety or phobias,” she said. “We are starting to have that dialogue more in our society. There’s more comfort in that, but there’s still a lot of stigma.”

Laumann has criss-crossed the country as a public speaker for more than 25 years, sharing inspirational stories of perseverance.

Along with a candid account of her life, Unsinkable’s cover photo prominently displays Laumann’s 23-year-old scar, which she calls her “leg-acy.”

“It’s our experiences that define us, good and bad, and I don’t regret anything that has happened to me in my life at all,” said Laumann. “(The injury) has had a purpose. It’s shaped me into the person that I am.”

Laumann will be the keynote speaker at a May 6 breakfast event to support the mental health and addiction program at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton. The festivities begin at 7:30 a.m.

Advance tickets are $50 per person or $500 for a corporate table.

To register, visit www.stjoesfoundation.ca/mentalhealthmorning or call Angeline at 905-522-1155 ext. 35981.

Celebrating Silken Laumann's 'leg-acy'

WhatsOn Apr 22, 2015 by Mike Pearson Stoney Creek News

In 1992, Silken Laumann overcame a terrible rowing accident in what’s been called the greatest comeback in Canadian sports history.

Known for winning bronze in women’s single sculls at the Barcelona Olympics, just 10 weeks after suffering a brutal leg injury, Laumann won three Olympic medals by the time she retired from the sport in 1999.

Years later, she was forced to deal with the equally crippling effects of anxiety, depression and periods of extreme self-loathing.

Laumann shares her powerful story in a critically acclaimed memoir, Unsinkable, which is now available in bookstores.

The Olympian, author and motivational speaker is also appearing in Hamilton next month for a mental health morning, hosted by St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton.

Like many teenagers growing up, Laumann faced personal crises but overcame her obstacles while thriving under pressure. The same can be said of her rowing career, when Laumann shut out every distraction at the sound of the starter’s pistol.

But it wasn’t until later in her life, after giving birth to her own children, that she began to understand how the past had shaped her present life.

Growing up in Mississauga, Ont., Laumann’s memoir documents her often-strained relationship with her mother.

Laumann believes her mother had and is still living with an undiagnosed mental illness, for which she has never sought help.

Laumann said her mother had difficulty connecting with her children and lacked appropriate compassion and empathy.

“I think she was also desperately unhappy so she had a lot of explosive moods,” Laumann explained in a telephone interview from her home in Victoria, B.C. “It was always important to try to read my mom, to try and figure out what kind of mood she was in, but it was kind of impossible to anticipate.”

Despite her mother’s emotional outbursts, Laumann’s upbringing was not unpleasant.

“Growing up in my house, there were a lot of wonderful things. We had an active and creative family, a very expressive family,” Laumann recalled.

Laumann’s youth seemed normal to her, because she had nothing else to compare it to.

But from a very early age, Laumann vowed to create her own reality and live her own kind of life.

It wasn’t until she had her own family that her life reached a crisis point.

Like most parents, Laumann vowed to avoid the mistakes of her parents while raising her own children and step children.

Laumann began “hyper-compensating,” as she calls it, trying to be the perfect mom while working full time, walking her children to school, volunteering in the community and writing a book.

“In retrospect, it should have been no surprise that I came to a crisis point,” said Laumann.

Today she helps people both directly and indirectly, to overcome similar obstacles in their lives.

There are passages in Unsinkable that Laumann admits were difficult to write.

“It was a book that I felt compelled to write, but I also didn’t want to write,” she said. “There was a lot of push and pull in terms of how open to be.”

Laumann soon realized her story was an all-or-nothing proposition. Leaving out key details would amount to telling half-truths.

“When I stand up on a stage and I tell 200 people that anything they need to overcome in their life can be done, that you have that inner strength to do it, they know a little bit more, maybe about what place that’s coming from. They have a little more context. And I guess that’s important to me. At the end of the day, it came down to authenticity,” said Laumann.

Unlike 30 years ago when treatment options were scarce, Laumann is pleased by recent advancements in the field of mental health.

For example, health care professionals now have a greater understanding of how childhood trauma can affect people as adults, she said.

“We’ve got a long way still to go. There’s definitely people who...when they hear that I’ve struggled with depression, they haven’t had that first-hand experience in them and that’s created a judgment within them,” said Laumann.

Laumann is pleased that mental health is now a mainstream topic of conversation.

“Most of us will have some sort of crisis in our life that may trigger depression, anxiety or phobias,” she said. “We are starting to have that dialogue more in our society. There’s more comfort in that, but there’s still a lot of stigma.”

Laumann has criss-crossed the country as a public speaker for more than 25 years, sharing inspirational stories of perseverance.

Along with a candid account of her life, Unsinkable’s cover photo prominently displays Laumann’s 23-year-old scar, which she calls her “leg-acy.”

“It’s our experiences that define us, good and bad, and I don’t regret anything that has happened to me in my life at all,” said Laumann. “(The injury) has had a purpose. It’s shaped me into the person that I am.”

Laumann will be the keynote speaker at a May 6 breakfast event to support the mental health and addiction program at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton. The festivities begin at 7:30 a.m.

Advance tickets are $50 per person or $500 for a corporate table.

To register, visit www.stjoesfoundation.ca/mentalhealthmorning or call Angeline at 905-522-1155 ext. 35981.

Celebrating Silken Laumann's 'leg-acy'

WhatsOn Apr 22, 2015 by Mike Pearson Stoney Creek News

In 1992, Silken Laumann overcame a terrible rowing accident in what’s been called the greatest comeback in Canadian sports history.

Known for winning bronze in women’s single sculls at the Barcelona Olympics, just 10 weeks after suffering a brutal leg injury, Laumann won three Olympic medals by the time she retired from the sport in 1999.

Years later, she was forced to deal with the equally crippling effects of anxiety, depression and periods of extreme self-loathing.

Laumann shares her powerful story in a critically acclaimed memoir, Unsinkable, which is now available in bookstores.

The Olympian, author and motivational speaker is also appearing in Hamilton next month for a mental health morning, hosted by St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton.

Like many teenagers growing up, Laumann faced personal crises but overcame her obstacles while thriving under pressure. The same can be said of her rowing career, when Laumann shut out every distraction at the sound of the starter’s pistol.

But it wasn’t until later in her life, after giving birth to her own children, that she began to understand how the past had shaped her present life.

Growing up in Mississauga, Ont., Laumann’s memoir documents her often-strained relationship with her mother.

Laumann believes her mother had and is still living with an undiagnosed mental illness, for which she has never sought help.

Laumann said her mother had difficulty connecting with her children and lacked appropriate compassion and empathy.

“I think she was also desperately unhappy so she had a lot of explosive moods,” Laumann explained in a telephone interview from her home in Victoria, B.C. “It was always important to try to read my mom, to try and figure out what kind of mood she was in, but it was kind of impossible to anticipate.”

Despite her mother’s emotional outbursts, Laumann’s upbringing was not unpleasant.

“Growing up in my house, there were a lot of wonderful things. We had an active and creative family, a very expressive family,” Laumann recalled.

Laumann’s youth seemed normal to her, because she had nothing else to compare it to.

But from a very early age, Laumann vowed to create her own reality and live her own kind of life.

It wasn’t until she had her own family that her life reached a crisis point.

Like most parents, Laumann vowed to avoid the mistakes of her parents while raising her own children and step children.

Laumann began “hyper-compensating,” as she calls it, trying to be the perfect mom while working full time, walking her children to school, volunteering in the community and writing a book.

“In retrospect, it should have been no surprise that I came to a crisis point,” said Laumann.

Today she helps people both directly and indirectly, to overcome similar obstacles in their lives.

There are passages in Unsinkable that Laumann admits were difficult to write.

“It was a book that I felt compelled to write, but I also didn’t want to write,” she said. “There was a lot of push and pull in terms of how open to be.”

Laumann soon realized her story was an all-or-nothing proposition. Leaving out key details would amount to telling half-truths.

“When I stand up on a stage and I tell 200 people that anything they need to overcome in their life can be done, that you have that inner strength to do it, they know a little bit more, maybe about what place that’s coming from. They have a little more context. And I guess that’s important to me. At the end of the day, it came down to authenticity,” said Laumann.

Unlike 30 years ago when treatment options were scarce, Laumann is pleased by recent advancements in the field of mental health.

For example, health care professionals now have a greater understanding of how childhood trauma can affect people as adults, she said.

“We’ve got a long way still to go. There’s definitely people who...when they hear that I’ve struggled with depression, they haven’t had that first-hand experience in them and that’s created a judgment within them,” said Laumann.

Laumann is pleased that mental health is now a mainstream topic of conversation.

“Most of us will have some sort of crisis in our life that may trigger depression, anxiety or phobias,” she said. “We are starting to have that dialogue more in our society. There’s more comfort in that, but there’s still a lot of stigma.”

Laumann has criss-crossed the country as a public speaker for more than 25 years, sharing inspirational stories of perseverance.

Along with a candid account of her life, Unsinkable’s cover photo prominently displays Laumann’s 23-year-old scar, which she calls her “leg-acy.”

“It’s our experiences that define us, good and bad, and I don’t regret anything that has happened to me in my life at all,” said Laumann. “(The injury) has had a purpose. It’s shaped me into the person that I am.”

Laumann will be the keynote speaker at a May 6 breakfast event to support the mental health and addiction program at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton. The festivities begin at 7:30 a.m.

Advance tickets are $50 per person or $500 for a corporate table.

To register, visit www.stjoesfoundation.ca/mentalhealthmorning or call Angeline at 905-522-1155 ext. 35981.