Schizophrenia is not a four letter word.

Meet Drake. At 15, He felt unsafe around his friends when he was at home. Afraid he might show his “quirks” and they would judge him or maybe say mean things about him. Alone at home a lot, he started to imagine “another me” to keep him company.

No one knew.

At school he was sociable. But the “other me” started talking to him more and more. Distracting him constantly and making him do things. Turn on and off the lights 5 times. Check the locks. Again. Again. Again.

At 16, the voice became meaner. Never stopping. Telling him that people were going to break in every night. The locks didn’t make a difference. Less sleep. More coffee. Less sleep. More coffee.

OK. Changing the subject. When I used to play in Jazz clubs (back in the day), there was smoke all around us. I was not a fan of the smoke. What I didn’t know was; it was the reason I started getting horrible sinusitis. The pain was unbearable and constant. It went past physical pain, partly because of its non-stop, unceasing duration but also from the lack of sleep. The combination of sleep deprivation and long-term pain does something to a person that is hard to explain without experiencing it.

I remember looking at my bedroom wall and really considering that smashing my head against that wall over and over might be a really good way to minimize the pain. I didn’t do it but it seemed like a true option at the time.

You know, I never realized until this moment, as I am writing this, that doing that might have killed me. This may sound weird but until this moment, I never considered how it would have affected me. That’s the thing about being in the middle of pain, we see options… often bad options but we don’t see anything beyond trying to stop the pain.

That’s what I am told by my clients, who have suffered that pain of mental illness, is what they feel like when they are in the midst of their pains. They may not be hitting their head against a wall; it may be drugs, risky behaviors, avoiding the world or even attempting something that could also end in permanent injury or even death… all they care about, at that moment, is ending the constant pain.

To the people who care about them, once this young person chooses “the other way”, all the people around them see is the consequences. “Didn’t you know that if you did “X” you would end up “Y””. It is understandable for those around you to feel this because the process of suffering is so often done in the dark. The sufferers try to protect those around them and some feel that by minimizing it, it may go away.

So blame is a dead-end street.

How do we go on from here?

Back to Drake:

At 17, the voice was a constant torment. It would say terrible things about the people around him and make him wonder about what people were thinking about him. His only salvation was knowing that someone on the TV really cared about him (or so he imagined).

Drake was still keeping all this to himself but it was getting harder and harder to do so. The pain kept getting worse until the idea of getting high to run away from all of this sounded like a good idea and it worked! At least for the first few times, then… the damn broke. The weed made it impossible to hide how he was feeling. Ashamed, fed up and unable to bear the voice he decided to jump of a bridge into two feet of water.

Drake woke up in the hospital and spent the next year between medical care and mental health facilities.

When we met, a year after his discharge, he was able to get around in a wheelchair. He was sober and ready to work. One of the first things he said to me was he hoped that he would never walk again, as he seemed to be a better person now. He was on meds that were working. I pointed out to him that what made him different now was that he didn’t have to hide from Schizophrenia. He could seek out help and we could work on getting back into finding his personal greatness. It wasn’t the “not walking”.

It has been two years now that we have working together. Drake is back at university and getting high 80’s in the courses he likes. He has stated: “I should be doing that make me happy not crap that make me feel complacent” and so we work on courses and past-times he loves and not done to please others. He helps so many friends and even people he chances upon in is daily journeys. He does wheelchair basketball, guitar, has chosen his vocation in life and I know he will excel at it. His new girlfriend and him communicate brilliantly and are there for each other.

Sometimes though, he says: “I am overwhelmed by becoming the new me“. That’s OK too. But none of this was possible until he embraced what he was suffering with and could seek help from others who would not see him as a label but as an amazing person, ready to contribute to our society, in need of guidance.

If you are someone going through this… know that there is help out there.
If you are a parent suffering in seeing your child go through this… know that once things are stabilized, your child can still find greatness in their lives and that their challenge can help them be more of a help to others in life.

If you are someone who wants to Mentor young adults with mental health issues… know that by studying a Mentoring course, specializing in young adults and mental health, you can change lives with one or two years of part-time training.

Let’s change the world!

Interested in mentoring millennials? Check out

Know a millennial in need of mentoring? Check out

If you or someone you know is at risk please contact your nearest Crisis Centre or call Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868 to speak to a counsellor.

Frame Of Mind is a new series inspired by The Maddie Project that focuses on teens and mental health. The series will aim to raise awareness and spark a conversation by speaking directly to teens who are going through a tough time, as well as their families, teachers and community leaders. We want to ensure that teens who are struggling with mental illness get the help, support and compassion they need. If you would like to contribute a blog to this series, please email

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Son Did Well in University But Is Slacking and Jobless

The Parent’s Contact Email:

“My son, “M” just turned 27 years old is a good guy, but a slacker. (No drugs / No ETOH…just poorly self motivated!!) Things recently went from bad to worse…quit his min wage job without having another lined up. Has a certificate in graphic arts, but it got him nowhere. Real love is game programming. I am encouraging him to go back to school for it. A great opp. Need help motivating him for it. I am not trying to define his life, but instead get him on a path! Please help. I have your book…but need to present it to him in a kind way!”

15 Minute Consultation:

After trying several positive ways to encourage “M” to meet with me, we went to “plan D”. All funds cut off unless he was willing to talk to me one time. It worked! “M” was stuck and ashamed of not having figured out how to make it “out there”.

First Session Work:

Please state three things you wish to work on:

Goal 1: Quitting weed.

Goal 2: Figuring out what job I could do well with.

Goal 3: Getting organized.

What would you say are some of the challenges you have to making these things be as you want them to be?

Goal 1: I really like the ritual of it all. Anywhere I go I can easily make friends ‘cuz there are always stoners around.

Goal 2: I’ve lost confidence in my ability to choose a good future.

Goal 3: I tend to start gaming and lose track of time.

What would be a good indicator that you have made progress in each of these things?

Goal 1: Not smoking on weekdays.

Goal 2: Doing a simple job I like. Preparing for something even better.

Goal 3: Getting something good done each day.

Six Months Later:

“M” succeeded in not smoking during the weekdays for a month but eventually started smoking every day again. He decided to stop completely for a month and see what happens. He is weed-free for 21 weeks and counting! He got a job at an upscale restaurant that trains their staff on business/restaurant skills. He’s been voted “most promising” three months in a row.

“M” is finding the schedule is making it easy to get at least two good things done every day, even with his work schedule. I know what he is going to pick as his long term vocation but we’ll wait and see if that is his “hero’s journey”.

From “A” Student To Unmotivated Teen Girl

The Parent’s Email:

“I was very interested in your website, as I am beside myself trying to help my 17 year old daughter.

A bit of history: she is the youngest of 3, with two older sisters. She was a very happy girl until about 14 years of age. Through 8th grade, her grades were great – A’s and B’s. Since 9th grade, her grades have been inconsistent.

She proceeded to fail to do her homework in class. She claimed not to know why she stopped trying. Her teachers have never been able to find a way to motivate her. Nor have we, her parents. We have tried asking if she needs help, as in a tutor, we’ve grounded her, taken her phone away, and more recently, at the OK of a counselor, paid her for grades. Even that is now not helping. She wants to handle things herself, but then does not. She gets angry when others try to help her, provide motivation for her, or set her up on a schedule of any type.

She has so much going for her. I don’t want to see her waste her life and her potential. She doesn’t appear to be anxious or stressed out. But she seems to fear success and the pressure she would feel to keep it up. That’s what it seems like to me.

Any words of wisdom you have would be most welcome. Thank you.”

15 Minute Consultation:

We determined that her daughter was a good candidate for Real Life Coaching. Her daughter and I spoke and we found common ground through music and the arts. We booked a first session.

First Session Work:

Please state three things you wish to work on:

Goal 1: Getting things done and organizing my life.

Goal 2: Not being pushed around to do things I don’t want to do (communication).

Goal 3: Finding something to do with my life.

What would you say are some of the challenges you have to making these things be as you want them to be?

Goal 1: I’m lazy. Too much video stuff. FB.

Goal 2: I don’t like confrontation.

Goal 3: I get bored easily. Everyone else does things better than me.

What would be a good indicator that you have made progress in each of these things?

Goal 1: When I can keep to a written schedule.

Goal 2: When I can stop saying yes to things just to get out of a lecture.

Goal 3: When I stick to something for a whole year.

Six Months Later:

X has been making great progress in self-esteem and communication. She has learned to say “Let me think about it” when she is asked to things she doesn’t want to do and then her and I come up with an alternate plan that meets her parents needs and still stays within X’s goals.

X is also keeping to her daily schedule. We found the secret to daily inspiration for her and it is working.