Dark Days – David’s Story


My early years were rough. At the age of eight I lost my mother, then four years later my grandmother died of cancer. I moved around a lot as a kid; however, by the time I graduated high school and was on my way to university I had some stability.

I was accepted into Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, and in September of 2002 my friend Ryan and I drove across the country to get there.

My first three years of university were awesome! I made lots of friends, lived on my own for the first time and was even able to squeeze in a couple girlfriends. I studied business, and after my first year I didn’t like it so I was working on switching over to politics

So things were good! Or so I thought. By April 2005 I was in full blown psychosis, and my mental health was deteriorating rapidly. At first I drank to numb the symptoms; however, by that summer I could no longer drink because of its effect on me. I was slowly isolating myself and was cutting off all contact with my friends, and family. The symptoms kept getting worse and worse.

Eventually I became paranoid, and delusional. Following that I thought people could read my mind or hear what I was thinking. I also thought that I was receiving special powers by reading my textbooks. I couldn’t control my emotions and would have outbursts in lecture, and would run away from conversations.

Between September 2005 to December 2005 I got really sick. I withdrew from all my courses except one, and would go on missions for hours at a time. I avoided everyone. Depression set in, I couldn’t even get out of bed most days. I thought that I was dying (I slowly was). Depression is a terrible thing, the emptiness one feels from it feels like the worst pain on earth. I wasn’t eating.

It would take me hours to get ready to try and go grocery shopping. Once there I though people could hear me think so I only grabbed a few things. I would make appointments with counselors, but never show up for my appointments.

One day in December 2005 (I remember it well) I felt something in my gut scream “You need help! Go Now!” I’m convinced it was my mother; never-the-less, I jumped in a taxi and went to the hospital. Once I was there I met with an intake worker that said I should admit myself into the hospital, because if I didn’t in a few short weeks I would be dead.

I admitted myself, my family was notified and I was transferred to the Rockyview hospital in Calgary. I was there for two months before going for treatment in Claresholm, Alberta for five months.

I was released from treatment in July, 2006, and was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Today I am on medication, and living my life with out substances. I will be 10 years sober this January. I have graduated from college, and own a freelance journalism business. I am also a mental health advocate, and community educator. I have been symptom free since 2010.

If I had a message for anyone beginning their own mental illness or addiction journey, or even at any point in that journey it would be that no matter how hard it gets, please always seek help. Life is worth living and fighting for!

Don’t let mental illness stand in your way from living a meaningful life. There is lots of support around you. If you’re struggling with mental illness and need guidance please contact the Canadian Mental Health Association or go to a hospital emergency room to speak with a nurse if it becomes unmanageable.

Our Peer Support program services can be accessed over the phone at 403-297-1402 or through email at peer@cmha.calgary.ab.ca.