OTTAWA -- Former Ottawa Senator Mark Borowiecki is opening up about his mental health struggles, saying he hopes his speaking publicly can encourage other athletes to get the help they need.

In a lengthy Instagram post on Tuesday, the Nashville Predators defenceman revealed he has suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder throughout most of his career and needed to take time off this season to get back to a healthy headspace.

“Periods of dark, obsessive thoughts have made it difficult to not just be an athlete, but also to be the husband and father that I need, and expect myself, to be,” Borowiecki wrote.

“It is my hope that I can speak publicly and encourage other athletes to get the help they may need, and to not feel like they are alone or unable to seek help.”

Borowiecki, an Ottawa native, broke into the NHL with the Senators and played 375 games with the team over nine seasons. He signed with the Predators last offseason.

In his post, the 31-year-old wrote that it can be difficult for athletes to be open and honest with their teams, but both organizations have been supportive.

“I felt vulnerable and sad. I want players in this league to know that both teams I have disclosed my struggles to have been incredibly helpful and kind,” he wrote. “The amount of compassion and kindness shown to me in both Nashville and Ottawa is something I will never forget.”

Borowiecki also suffered a concussion this season, battling through headaches and then dealing with bouts of dizziness and nausea. He said recovery took longer than expected, but he has been cleared.

In Ottawa, Borowiecki became known for his hard-nosed physical play and had a career-high 18 points in his final season with the team.

Off the ice, he became a pillar in the community, becoming an honorary captain of the Capital City Condors with his wife Tara. The Condors are a hockey team for those with cognitive and physical disabilities.

Borowiecki invited any athlete having a hard time who may need help to reach out to him.

“Know that there are always people who love you and want to help, no matter how dark things might seem.”