I just remembered that early May is my ‘Wellness Anniversary” as I call it.
It’s the date of my diagnosis, which for my symbolizes a major turning point in my life and it’s an annual milestone I aim for to remain relapse-free.
This month marks 8 years relapse-free.
Sometimes I celebrate it with a party and sometimes it just passes by. This year, I’ve decided to write a blog post describing what it’s been like to live with one of the world’s most debilitating illnesses for the last 8 years.
Here’s part of the journey:
The Early Days
May, 2007 was a fairly terrible month in the life of Brent Seal.
I fell into a major relapse of psychosis, attempted suicide, ended up on a psych ward and got diagnosed with a label no one in their right mind wants to hear.
Doc: “Brent, would you like to hear what you have?”
Me: “Uhhh, yeah, ok”
Doc: “You’ve got schizophrenia”
Thing was, I wasn’t in my right mind, I was completely psychotic, thinking I was going to be killed at any moment in ways I won’t describe here, and I thought the entire world was coming to an end, Armageddon-Terminator-style.
To me, the diagnosis was a relief. A reason for the thoughts and beliefs I was experiencing
BUT, it was also devastating as with it, I saw my future crumble before my eyes.
Any hope for pursuing a meaningful career, living on my own, starting a family, let alone just getting back to school seemed uncontrollably impossible.
Suicidal thoughts still flowed like major highways through my brain, not because of the lack of future, but because of the hell-like present I was experiencing.
Fortunate doesn’t begin to explain how I’m able to type this note today. I’m living a richer life now than I ever was before my diagnosis.
The past 8 years have been full of challenges, but equally full of opportunities.
My diagnosis has taught me so many things in the weirdest of ways.
Not taking things for granted.
Recognizing the importance of doing the right thing.
Treating people well and respecting everyone no matter who they are.
These lessons that serve anyone who apply them (diagnosis or not) top of the list of things I’ve either pursued learning, or been forced to learn.
If you’ve played a part in helping me learn these things, helping me get through the struggles or just supporting in your own way, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
The Next Steps
In experiencing this recovery, and recognizing how fortunate I am to live a functional, fulfilling life, I’ve felt a duty to give back.
I’ve spent the past 8 years trying to do everything I can to a) get as fit and healthy as I can, to combat my illness, stay inspired and experience what it’s like to naturally feel good and b) support other young people going through struggles/help them avoid struggles.
The journey has been embarrassing, discouraging, tiring, frustrating and overwhelming.
It’s been empowering, inspiring, fulfilling, exciting and incredibly rewarding.
I used to be a hockey player (typical Canadian, I know), seeking a US Scholarship and most of my peers were aiming for The Show (NHL).
I sometimes ask myself if given the chance to push a button, change the course of my life and be a current NHL player living the hockey dream not having gone through the struggles I experienced, being a multi-millionaire with fans around the world, etc..
I’ve NEVER answered yes to that question. Not silently to myself. Not out loud. Not once.
That’s still my answer today.
I’m a big believer that the bigger the challenges we face, the bigger the opportunities are presented to us.
Put another way:
Here’s my TEDxSFU Talk on just that exact topic..
How To Turn Your Biggest Challenges Into Your Biggest Opportunities
Wherever you’re at with your mental health, or the person you’re supporting, I want my story to be an example of the fact that no mental illness, no matter how scary the name, no matter how deep the struggle, can hold you back from pursuing your dreams.
Thanks for reading!!
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Either way.. Keep Well and Keep Rockin like you know you can!!