“It’s all about the boomerang effect”
Start throwing them. Today!!
Ok I should really explain, and I’ll do so through a story.
This story explains how I got involved in mental health and one of the most important boomerang’s I’ve thrown.
I through it at Keli Anderson, Founder of the FORCE Society and the Institute of Families (shown in above image on your right).
[EARLY 2008 – LESS THAN ONE YEAR AFTER DIAGNOSIS]
I attend a talk by Margaret Trudeau at UBC and am greatly inspired by her story of living with Bipolar disorder.
I attend another speech that same week at UBC with some researcher from Europe spitting out all sorts of horrible, and I mean HORRIBLE ‘facts’.
I hated what I was hearing and I can still remember it vividly.
The facts were things like how likely someone was to remain a friend of someone with mental illness once they found out, how likely someone would be a partner of someone with schizophrenia, etc..
The facts were bloody depressing. To this day I don’t understand the point of that research other than to rub salt into the open wounds I was still licking.
But that week was the week I decided my game plan.
Right then, I came up with the idea to start a student club on campus and start telling everyone on campus that I was someone living with schizophrenia.
I had attempted suicide and now was about to attempt social suicide. At least I had some practice.
[SPRING 2008 – ENTER KELI]
A few weeks after the events at UBC, I found myself sharing my story at a conference for the first time.
Another one of the speakers was Keli Anderson who was representing the Mental Health Commission of Canada.
There were many interesting speakers presenting, but being a dreamer, I wanted to connect with the person from the Commission. Dream big, right?!
I asked Keli to meet me for coffee and she for some reason agreed.
She brought her husband the first time we met and he sat on the other side of the coffee shop and we got chatting about everything mental health and my aspirations.
I asked for advice and support in setting up the student club, but, and here’s the important piece, I also offered my help in anything and everything I could help her with.
That’s the boomerang launching from me to Keli.
Making myself available to help out if and when needed.
[2008 – 2011 – SOCIAL EXPERIMENTS IN MENTAL HEALTH]
That Fall, of 2008 I gathered some courageous friends and with the support of Keli and others in the mental health community – especially the Mood Disorders Association of BC – we launched ‘Students For Mental Wellness’ and officially committed social suicide.
I was out and there was no turning back.
Interestingly the challenge was far more having anyone even notice rather than some evil stigma that got placed on us.
I’m sure we had people avoid us, but personally, I had nothing but support from friends and groups all across the campus, from the active engaged keeners to the pub crowd.
As for the boomerang headed for Keli, over those years we did all sorts of things together, from hosting events to setting up advisory committees, consulting the government to chatting, chatting, chatting about what we could do to engage more youth.
[SPRING/SUMMER 2011 – THE BOOMERANG COMES BACK]
I graduated in 2010 and though my degree was in business and there were some interesting opportunities in front of me, I made the decision to work in mental health.
That’s technically when I launched my business, called Seal Wellness at the time – Spring of 2011.
And who did I turn to to help me?
Over the next few months, Keli was the only person to pay me as a ‘consultant’ to work on mental health projects she had on the go.
In the end, it was difficult. There just wasn’t enough youth-focused opportunities to sustain myself as fully self employed.
Durning a lunch break for one of these projects, Keli, Kate Dilworth and I were jamming away chatting mental health and they kept referring to the PiR, which I had no idea about.
They also once in a while mentioned a YiR, to which I would smile and nod, still confused.
Then Keli turned her attention to me and said ‘Brent, do you think you’d be interested in this position?’
Once I figured out that PiR stood for Parent in Residence and YiR stood for Youth in Residence, I immediately expressed interest.
I wasn’t technically looking for a job, but steady income for a reputable organization sounded pretty damn good right then.
[2011 – 2015 – THE NEXT BOOMERANG]
Over the next 3 years, I was able to shape and support the growth of the Youth in Residence position with my partners Jessica and then Sarah.
In the Summer of 2014, I decided to give my business another shot, having had the most incredible experience working for the FORCE and learning and growing a ton.
This time I would call it Mavrixx and there would be no shortage of opportunities.
A lot of progress has been made in those short years and instead of one person being offered a job, the FORCE and IF now regularly receive 60-70 youth applications for every job they post.
A when I launched my latest project – MINDvsMOUNTAIN – and was thinking about who and what I’d like to raise funds for through these adventures, my first thought was to support something Keli was doing.
Pretty much every major opportunity I’ve had in mental health can somehow be tracked back to Keli. Who else would I choose to support?
We threw some boomerangs at each other and we’re now mapping out some plans to use the MvM adventures to raise funds for the Institute of Families’ youth component of their new Family Smart Network.
This is one example of an at first random, but eventually important boomerang I’ve been throwing to Keli for the past 7+ years.
I’ve thrown countless others. Many don’t return, and to those people I generally never throw another one.
But many have returned – often spray painted and decorated with awesome things upon their return.
I don’t throw them for the sole purpose of my benefit, I throw them because it’s fun to throw boomerangs and it’s the right way to go about relationship building.
My advise to you, if I can give any is:
1. Be very liberal with throwing initial boomerangs – more liberal than you’re comfortable being. Throw many and throw far. Sometimes it might be years until they return.
2. Be very selective with who who throw follow up boomerangs to – more selective than you’re comfortable being.
3. Fully enjoy and embrace the boomerangs that return.
4. Forget the one’s that don’t.