Last week, The Dales Report sat down with former Chicago Blackhawk and Wesana Health CEO Daniel Carcillo for an intimate conversation about the way psilocybin mushrooms have helped him get his life back after post-concussion syndrome. Today, the CEO of the newly founded company says after 18 months of regularly consuming both micro and macrodoses of psilocybin, Carcillo is the “happiest, healthiest version” of himself.
On Self Improvement
With a strategic focus on perspective, spirituality, supplementation, sleep, and diet, Carcillo says he’s living a more holistic life that allows him to be “radically in the moment.” Every six months, he has his brain scanned and every test so far has revealed an improvement.
“All of the pieces of this mission that it feels like I started six and a half years ago are starting to come together, so it’s really exciting,” he says.
In the six-year span since he left the NHL, he says his most profound lesson has been learning to adapt and improve his “skewed” perspective, with the help of both mindfulness practices and psychedelics.
“When I came out of hockey, because I was fighting everybody in hockey, you feel like you have to protect yourself at all times. But you don’t have to do that in the real world,” he says.
“So you strip away, like the onion, layers of yourself that you don’t agree with anymore… and you have the opportunity to become somebody totally new, and look at the world in a different way.”
Carcillo On Psilocybin During Transition
Carcillo says a big misunderstanding or myth about “doing the work” with psychedelics like psilocybin is that it will change a person beyond what they’re prepared for, or that they might have to give parts of themselves up first.
“[People think] ‘what if I do these medicines or I do this self-discovery work, am I going to lose the part of myself that I think I really like?’ What actually happens is you lose the pieces of yourself that you didn’t know were holding you back.”
Carcillo says that especially for those who may be in a time of transition, working with psilocybin may help to change one’s perspective for the better.
“With everything around us, it’s really easy to glaze over things that are affecting our performance at work or our performance at home, how we take in information and make decisions based off of how we feel,” he says.
“These medicines can really help hone you in and help you make decisions.”
Ultimately, he says, using psychedelics has helped him overcome issues like anxiety, but also to become more connected to himself, his family, and to his purpose.
On Leaving the NHL
Carcillo decided to walk away from the NHL at age 30 after a number of factors made it seem like the obvious choice.
He’d just been diagnosed with his seventh career concussion, and his first child had been born earlier that year. His good friend and fellow hockey player Steve Montador had recently passed away and an autopsy later revealed he had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE in his brain.
“Seeing a lot of the similar symptomology [between Steve and I] really scared me into making a decision,” he says. He decided to record a video that would air during the Stanley Cup finals calling on the NHL to reassess its concussion protocol after several players died in a short period of time, each thought to be linked to concussion-related symptoms.
“The concussion protocol of going home, being prescribed opiates, benzos and uppers and then being told to come back to the rink when you have no symptoms is not enough,” he says.
The first four years after his retirement were the most difficult time in his life, he says, and were spent seeking out every possible solution.
Recalling his own recovery process, Carcillo says he contemplated suicide and points out that it is the number-one cause of death after traumatic brain injury.
“I believe it’s because a lot of us don’t understand the symptoms that are brought on by it, let alone treatment,” he says.
“When I was starting to make plans to take my own life 20 months ago, it was because I was hopeless–because I thought, ‘well I’m at the end of this four-year journey, I’m $300,000 in the hole, and I’m no better,’” he says.
“That’s when hopelessness starts to creep in.”
He’s recognized that there is not a standard of care for survivors of traumatic brain injury, and particularly for NHL players who suffer concussions. Montador was cleared for a total of 19 concussions throughout his career, without once being told by a physician or someone in the league that he ought to consider leaving the game for the sake of his health.
Still, there are no TBI endpoints, he says, and the NHL remains the only professional sports league on earth that does not admit a link between repetitive head trauma and neurodegenerative disease. National football, soccer, and baseball leagues, on the other hand, have admitted to the link (in many cases, thanks to lawsuits).
“I care about helping people, I don’t care about bureaucracy and politics,” he says, noting that several former hockey players and TBI survivors have reached out asking for help.
“If you’ve experienced some semblance of recovery as it relates to mental health, I encourage you to tell it, because somebody hopeless could hear it, and think, ‘I haven’t tried that yet.’”