A couple of weeks ago I shared a post on Facebook which originated from the York Regional Police website in regards to a missing person in Thornhill. It’s sadly not uncommon to see such posts being shared by so many of us but this time around for me it wasn’t just a nameless face I was staring at on the screen but instead it was a face of a man that I had known since I was 8 years old. We both moved to Thornhill around the same time and attended the same Elementary and High School together. Our paths first crossed the year I had moved from Montreal and Lance had immigrated all the way from South Africa.
When the initial shock wore off I quickly became flooded with memories of a guy I once considered a friend. I remembered how funny he was, I remembered his beautiful smile, I remembered how disciplined he was, I remembered what a thriving gymnast he was (through his adolescent and teenage years he worked his butt off as a gymnast with the Canadian National Gymnastics team), I remembered how he fought so hard to pursue his dreams to the fullest and I remembered how much all the girls in Elementary school chased after him. And although we had gone our separate ways after High School I never forgot about my friend Lance and all those memories.
The only real contact we have had in the last 10 plus years was through Social Media but other than knowing he had become a lawyer, I didn’t know much more. He kept a very quiet presence on Facebook and I had no idea that a few days later after seeing his missing person picture all over Facebook that I would learn his fate and that Lance was no longer considered a missing person but instead that he had succumb to his battle with mental illness.
Every time I hear about another suicide it completely throws me into a tailspin but when I read about Lance’s lifelong struggles today through an article that was recently written by a Crime and Justice Reporter in connection to an interview conducted with both Lance’s mom and dad I became even more angry and even more saddened to learn the details of his pain and suffering. He battled with many mental illnesses, but his severe OCD is what began his demise, crippling his ability to function and ultimately leading to other diagnosis’s of depression and anxiety.
His parents talk at great length in the article about Lance’s struggle to find the proper treatment he so desperately yearned for and their heartbreaking words so sadly resonated with me, knowing that I face the same obstacles everyday with that same broken Mental Healthcare System. Their words made me feel so disheartened for him and every other individual struggling to find that proper treatment. It is so distressing just knowing how many other people like Lance or myself also feel so ostracized and stigmatized because of their mental illness.
The sad reality is that Lance’s story isn’t an isolated one, I mean I talk in great length and often about how broken our Mental Healthcare System is and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better with each new day or each new obstacle I face. This is why it’s more important than ever to talk, cry or shout about how badly our system is failing you or maybe your mom, your brother, your best friend or your own child. We have to be the voice and keep fighting to let all the Lance’s out there know that their lives were not lost in vain.
Feel free to read the article I referenced above.