Hey, I’m Brent. I am honoured to be named a WYL Community Champion and I’m super excited to have come across one of Canada’s first clothing social enterprises dedicated to supporting mental health.
My entry into the world of mental health didn’t come as a choice. While studying at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, I experienced 2 episodes of psychosis. After the first episode, I tried to hide my experiences, put it behind me and get on with my life. After the second, which involved a suicide attempt, hospitalization and diagnosis of schizophrenia, I decided I needed to study the illness. I Googled ‘schizophrenia success stories’ and was uninspired with what I found. I decided right then that I needed to become a success story to offer others hope.
My WHY was strong and meaningful - to get as healthy as I could, and share my story in the hopes that it might offer someone that tiny spark of hope that might just be what they need to recovery and live a great life. My WHAT at first was to get back to school and prove to myself that my brain still worked. That was in 2007.
In 2010, I graduated from my SFU Business Class as Valedictorian and soon after realized ‘mental wellness’ was not enough. What is mental wellness without physical, nutritional, financial, and relationship wellness? I broadened my focus and chose a new WHAT - to complete an ultramarathon. My WHY was the same, but my WHAT had evolved.
I had gained weight due to medication and lack of exercise, I was smoking, and I barely had the energy to fulfill my commitments. I figured if I could train for and complete an ultra, I could overcome all of these challenges. For 2 years I slowly shed the bad habits, the weight and the low energy. In 2013, I completed my first ultra and found myself in the best shape of my life. Last month I completed my 3rd ultra and my first 50 Miler.
During this time, by broadening my focus to wellness, I’ve been able to increase my capacity to perform at a high level, and that’s enabled me to make the leap to running my business - Seal Wellness - full time. Through it, I’m offering Consulting, Coaching and Speaking, and training students, entrepreneurs and young professionals how to become high performers through wellness.
In November, I’ll be announcing my new WHAT at TEDxSFU. It’s a combination of mental health awareness building, story telling and taking the adventures to the next level.
Throughout my experience of struggling more than anyone should, to recovering and being on a roller coaster of a journey, I’ve learned that our biggest challenges are in fact our biggest opportunities. If we choose to learn, grow and connect through our challenges, we can overcome the ones life throws at us and pursue our wildest dreams with confidence.
My WHY is still the same, because I’m still well aware of too many young people who are struggling. Hope is an overlooked and under-appreciated commodity, until you find yourself with none. Then you realize it’s the most important commodity on earth. I’m trying to spread some of it and it’s a pleasure to be doing so with the great team at WYL and many other real life heroes who work in mental health.
If you’re lucky enough to recover from mental illness, I challenge you to reach out and offer support, encouragement and hope to those that haven’t made that transition yet. You might save a life, you’ll most definitely meet some of the most incredible, strong, courageous people on earth.
And please help us spread the word of Wear Your Label. Share this post or buy some gear for a friend you care about. We NEED more innovation in mental health and social enterprises like WYL are leading the charge. It’s not easy, but with your support, we can change the face of mental illness and make sure no one struggles in isolation.
Hit me up on Twitter and keep being awesome!!