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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Dickson

A pivotal moment in my life: what keeps me going? Why do I advocate for others with mental illness?

This is an excerpt from a Facebook post I wrote on August 23, 2022. It was at the end of a long journey of fighting schizophrenia. It was at a pivotal moment in my life I will never forget.

This is what I've had to deal with living with mental illness, and what millions more have to deal with, plus more, around the world in countries with no mental health care.

I know how painful and relentless brain disorders can be, and I'd like to help others going through them. This is why I do what I do with Mind Aid and my advocacy work.

Anyway, here's what I wrote:

I've been dreaming of this moment since I was 22, when the wonderful disease of schizophrenia wracked my body.

A lady in my hometown of St. Andrews, NB, saw me walking down the street in my worst year, 1994, and said I looked like I was "walking through a world of flying glass". She was so right.

After 27 years of tiny - glacially slow - weekly improvements, my symptoms stopped in February 2021. The last year and a half I've been in a state of shock, and have been able to reflect on what I've been through.

The last few days, my shock is wearing off, as I've thought through a lot of things. The only way I can describe what this feels like is crawling up onto the beach after swimming across oceans of shark-infested waters for about 30 years and collapsing.

I am tired, but so much stronger by being molded by the relentless torment of this disease. I am tired of jumping through endless hoops every second of the day for my entire adult life. This tired phase shouldn't last long. Instead of gasping for breath, I get to breathe easy now. I will dust myself off (or rather, dry myself off in this analogy!), and move on with my life.

Instead of being tossed about the waves, I want to get up on the waves and ride them!

You are capable of so much more than you think. Never forget that. Thank you to everyone who has chatted with me over the years and has treated me well. You have no idea how valuable that was - and still is - to me. I've learned so much and want to share that with others. So many people lost in the dark are crying out for a light that I can provide them. I am trying to find them.



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