Red Wings’ Johan Franzen describes ‘very dark’ life with concussion

Former Detroit Red Wings right wing Johan Franzen (93) has opened up about his career-ending concussions in a new interview. (Carlos Osorio/AP)

Former Detroit Red Wings forward Johan Franzen is still struggling with the concussion that ended his NHL career almost four years ago, and in a new interview, he says he’s suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression.

“Sometimes my whole world falls apart and I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Franzen said in an interview with the Swedish newspaper Expressen, which released excerpts from the interview in English. “Most of the time I think I am moving in the right direction, but when I have down periods there is nothing positive. I almost give up then, and it is even worse because you think you have been better for a while.”

Franzen, now 38, suffered multiple concussions during his 10 NHL seasons, but the final one came on Jan. 6, 2015 when he was hit in the head during a game against the Edmonton Oilers. Franzen skated in two games in October of 2015, but hasn’t played in the NHL since.

“All I can do then is to sleep and lay in my bed,” he said. “I take antidepressants and try to feel better again. But it quickly gets dark. Very dark.”

Earlier this year Franzen’s wife, Cissi, wrote about her husband’s struggles in a blog post titled An Emotional Week. In the post she describe traveling with the couple’s two kids to Denver, Colo., where Johan was having treatment at the Marcus Brain Health Institute.

“Living with a husband with a brain injury is not easy, it’s like a rollercoaster,” Cissi wrote. “But I am doing my best to get us to a better place, not only for us and but also for our amazing boys that deserve the best!!”

In his interview with Expressen, Franzen also talked about how he wants to return to his native Sweden one day to get a fresh start at life.

“I still have many of my best memories from (Detroit) but the last few years I have just wanted to leave,” he said. “I don’t want to be inside these walls. There has been so much anxiety, panic and depression.”


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