My story is as follows. I had a lot of trouble in high school and barely graduated with a mid 60’s average. I tried taking on a full course load at college and failed most of my courses. My goal was to become a Social Worker so I pushed on with a part time course load. After taking 4 years to complete 2 years worth of courses and averaging 70%, I took that average to UVIC (I am originally from BC) and I was told that I was obviously not cut out for post secondary life.
I was encouraged by multiple sources to pursue the trades. I worked in Hydraulics for 7 years and moved to getting my Red Seal in Plumbing and Gas fitting in 2007. I filled my helping need by volunteering as a Big Brother over the years.
In 2008 / 2009, in the midst of the economic downturn that hit the BC construction industry hard, the plumbing company I was working for was reduced from 77 employees to 6 in a period of 6 months. I was one of the last ones to be let go.
I was living in Kelowna BC and had a house, all the toys, a fiance, etc. I was also miserable due to my misfortune. I sought help in the mental health system and was diagnosed in March 2009 with Depression and Anxiety (which made perfect sense) but also ADHD. I was put on an anti-depressant and Ritalin and told that this would solve my mood swings and while it did “something,” I realized that it was nothing more than a band aid solution.
I started looking for help with understanding ADHD and how it had impacted my life thus far. I realized that it would have had a significant impact at all levels of school, family and social life. I found an ADHD support group 4 hours away in Vancouver BC and attended it in the spring of 2010. I had found a group of individuals who thought outside the box like I did ,acted like I did and experienced life long challenges like I did. I pulled the facilitator Pete Quily aside and asked him what he did for a living and he said he was an ADHD Coach. I thought to myself that this could be the perfect fit for me!
I went back to work in plumbing but suffered a back injury in September of 2010. It was at that point that I decided to make a significant change in my life and pursue my purpose and passion.
My fiance, had recently completed her Masters at UBC and was wanting to move home, closer to her family in Nova Scoita. I was also looking into returning to school myself. I felt that NSCC would offer the best opportunities to get back in the swing of things, mostly due to my negative experiences with post secondary studies in the past. I also started looking into ADHD Coaching programs which are all located on the East Coast of the USA. I decided to attempt to pursue them both simultaneously in the interest of time.
In July 2011, I sold the house and packed everything into a 16′ shipping container and drove across the country with my new wife and dog. On drive way over, I had a disagreement with her (based on some massive anxiety I was having with the transition that I was in) that would ultimately end the marriage. The long and the short is that we arrived in NS and 3 weeks later, I stared my new journey, solo. So here I was, 6000 km away from family, freinds, etc. I decided that I would make the best of it and did I ever!
Anyways, I started my first group in October 2011 called the ADHD EMPOWERMENT HOUR at NSCC in Truro. I ran that for 2 years with a lot of success. In the second year, I added a MENTAL HEALTH & AWARENESS GROUP with the help / co-facilitation of Susan Henderson (Executive Director at CMHA in Truro). I also added a 3rd group that runs on the 1st Wednesday of every month from 6:30 – 8pm for Youth and Adults with ADHD. I have recently added a duplicate group at the NSCC Akerley Campus in Dartmouth on the 3rd Wednesday of every month.
I took full time courses at NSCC during the day and completed coaching school at night. In February 2012, a student from the Agricultural College had exhausted the resources there and called up to the provincial disability services looking for an ADHD Coach. They had never heard of such a thing but called around to some Disability Resource Facilitators in the province and eventually contacted Joy LaRusic (Disability Resource Facilitator at NSCC Truro) who told them about me. I started off coaching the AC Student and one other at NSCC. By September 2012 I indicated that I could increase my caseload to 10 which I achieved in January of 2013. I also received the “ok” to coach at any post secondary institution in Nova Scotia on January 17th, 2012. Currently, I am working at all 3 NSCC campuses in the HRM and the Truro campus as well. I will be working with 32 students this year and am looking to expand the service province wide.
I graduated (Honours) from Disability Support and Services in April 2013 and am completing online courses at CBU for the Bachelors of Arts Community Studies. I also completed coaching school at the ADD Coach Academy based out of New York and added “Coaching Teens and College Students” through JST Coaching this past April.
My other passion is Peer Support and I am working with NSCC to bring that to the 13 campuses throughout the province. I am one of the first 28 people in the process of being trained as a Certified Peer Support Specialist in Nova Scotia. Healthy Minds Cooperative has the contract for this project with Roy Muise heading the training. This past summer, I was on contract with the Self Help Connection as a Peer Support Consultant and will continue ties with them in the years to come. They are on board to to pursue ties and are in full support of Peer Support in the college / universities alike. Dalhousie is rolling out the first Peer Support Program at the post secondary level with Laura Burke (an amazingly passionate and talented individual) heading that project.
In addition, I also facilitate numerous ADHD workshops. I was recently contracted by NSCC to design a new workshop aimed at faculty and will address “invisible disabilities” such as ADHD, Mental Health, Learning disabilities and Chronic pain and strategies on how to address these in a learning environment. I will present this course using the principles of Universal Design and hope to that additional faculty will request it in the future!
I absolutely love this life that I have created with the support of so many amazing friends, colleagues and family. I recently relocated from Brookfield to Eastern Passage, NS with my incredibly supportive partner and her 6 year old son.
This journey has not been an easy one by any means! It has shown me that when you find something to really care about, to jump in feet first and give it your all but not to be afraid to seek out supports along the way!
The power of “Lived Experience” goes a long way in your ability to empathize with others in similar situations…share those experiences, share the hope!
**I would love to hear your stories on how you have overcome your life struggles, so don’t hesitate to send them along! I would love to post them on my blog so you can help others with your own stories on how you have overcome adversity! Don’t include your name in the story if you don’t want it published**