stigma free zone story

Jacob

Looking back, I am fresh into the eighth grade. Being your typical boy in that age range, I felt confident, loud, anxious and proud. But little did I know that there was something that would really shape me into someone completely different. Soon I wasn’t myself anymore. Initially, I was a video game enthusiast, into sports and most of all an internet video watcher. All of these activities that I used to love started becoming more and more distant. They went from being everyday activities to just happening once a week to almost non-existent. As the distance was taking place there was an alternative force that kicked in. It was mania and fairly soon thereafter, I truly believed I was going to Harvard! I was spending all of my money, I was super cheerful and most of all I felt really lost. After months of having these experiences, I noticed I wasn’t gaming anymore, I wasn’t enjoying my sports in the same manner and the internet videos I watched weren’t the same either. I soon noticed that I had a problem and instead of reaching for help, I thought I’d try and “get over it” on my own. shutterstock_59006449 (2)Fast forward about a year, I’m in my room one night curled up in the fetal position hiding from the TV remote of all things. Something wasn’t right, so I texted a good friend of mine who explained that I needed to get help so I emailed my teacher. My teacher then got help via the police whom had knowledge on mental health crisis situations and then I was admitted into the hospital. I didn’t feel comfortable explaining what had happened, so I was discharged. The next few days were extremely difficult and I was then shifted through a couple of mental health related programs before being diagnosed with Psychosis. I did not share my experience of believing I was going to Harvard, which was a grandiose thought, so as time went on we addressed a lot of the problems I was having, but something just dawned upon me one day about the strange thoughts that I had been experiencing. My beliefs about going to Harvard weren’t actually good for me at all and were completely out of perspective. As times were changing, I no longer felt overcome by my situation anymore and I was starting to get back out into the community. Giving back to everyone. One of the great things I have done is having been part of a working team on a mental health companion app called “Booster Buddy.” The app was made to help people cope with mental illness in a way that has never been done before.

Giving people hope that they could never have achieved on their own. Not only was it giving hope to others, but it gave me hope that I could contribute to the community in a meaningful way. Booster Buddy shows me that mental illness hasn’t taken over my life, but it actually gave my life meaning. A purpose if you will.

However, even with my successes with the “Booster Buddy” app things began to falter fstigma free zone or me. My grades were plummeting. I went from an okay school average student to barely passing and then to even failing. I honestly thought I’d have to drop out of high school because I couldn’t produce passing grades. It also didn’t help that my home life was getting hard because my parents knew in their hearts I wasn’t going to graduate and certainly not on time. However, I started picking up some of the slack and started passing some of my courses in grade 11. By grade 12, I had several courses to make up and I mean a lot! I ended up taking those classes and although it wasn’t an easy course load, I managed to graduate on time. I also managed to get into a local college for their September intake for cooking. During this time, I attended a Bipolar Babes Teens2Twenties Peer Support Group and this certainly encouraged me to stay on track. I have been working as a dishwasher at a local restaurant as it relates to my future dreams to be a cook in a kitchen. Although, it is still very difficult to manage my mental health and get by at times, I know I have come a long way in so many respects and I now have hope that all things will work itself out. I feel it is important to talk about mental health and to reach out for help and I am glad that I did.