Michael Hobin finds fulfillment in sharing his struggle with schizophrenia in hopes of helping others dealing with mental health challenges.
“Being a role model for someone else, that’s why I get out of bed in the morning,” explains 43-year-old Michael Hobin, whose mental health journey began at a very young age. Although he was not formally diagnosed with schizophrenia until later on in his life, he recalls struggling with mental health challenges since childhood.
“My dad had me seeing specialists when I was four,” Michael explains. “They knew something was wrong, but that was before mental disorders and schizophrenia were studied in-depth.”
And this was only the beginning of his struggles. At the age of eight his parents’ divorce left him in the hands of the foster care system, which eventually led to street living by the time he was in his twenties.
“I didn’t think there was anything wrong with living on the street. I had no ambition to get a job. I thought this was my life,” Michael recalls.
It was when he was 21 and living on the streets of Ottawa that he was approached by a social worker and referred to a psychologist who officially diagnosed him with schizophrenia.
Once back in his home province of Halifax and in treatment, Michael transitioned from supportive living to his own apartment, but life was still a struggle.
“When I was diagnosed with schizophrenia, I pretty much just sat in my apartment and watched T.V. for three year,” he explains.
Then he received a call from his estranged father. He invited Michael to move to Calgary and live with him, and he did for 10 years.
Although he was grateful to have a family again, it wasn’t without its challenges. That led him to reach out to CMHA.
He enrolled in CMHA’s supportive living program, which he was a part of for three years, unfortunately his condition didn’t allow him to continue to work and live independently.
“I can’t handle stress. I get very temperamental and stressed out,” he explained. “My dad said I should come home. I didn’t think twice. I moved back.”
Today Michael still seeks support from his independent living support worker who gives him access to CMHA’s programs and other services and supports in the community.
“CMHA has an important role in giving an individual what they need in order to have a better life and some form of happiness,” Michael emphasizes about why CMHA’s connection is so important for the person living with the mental illness.
Although Michael says that he will never know a life without schizophrenia, he is incredibly grateful for what he has.
“There are people out there who do not have what I have. They do not have a family that cares. They don’t have a home,” says Michael. “That’s what keeps me going. The fact that I have a family and that CMHA is on the other end of the phone.”
He finds fulfillment in being an advocate for CMHA, sharing his story in hopes of inspiring others who are struggling with a mental illness.
“Even if it’s just a smile over a cup of coffee. That effort can make a person’s day,” he says. “CMHA gives me that opportunity to be a voice for those individuals that may not have had the same opportunity to be heard as I have.”