Our Vancouver

Mental illness a motivator for climber, entrepreneur Brent Seal

Brent Seal was diagnosed with schizophrenia in university. After treatment and support from his family, he's developed a career as a motivational speaker.

Seal speaking at Here-2-There mental health forum in Vancouver

Brent Seal has schizophrenia but won't let the diagnosis hold him back 7:36

Brent Seal doesn't think of his mental illness as a barrier.

Since he was diagnosed with schizophrenia, he's refused to let it get in the way of his goals, including aspirations of running his own company, and climbing Mount Everest.

"The perspective shift it gives you to appreciate and the inner strength you have to tap into is similar in a lot of ways to overcoming mental health struggles."

Seal has come a long way since his diagnosis. He's now a motivational speaker, and will look to inspire others at the Here-2-There mental health forum in Vancouver.

Battling schizophrenia

Seal was a university student in his 20s when he suffered what he calls a complete breakdown, the result of trying to transition from the life of a partying undergraduate to that of a serious student.  

"I would forget to take my medication and then I suffered a relapsed two years later. I thought the world was coming to an end. I was having delusions, hallucinations, symptoms of psychosis and ended up attempting suicide," he said.

Seal was later diagnosed with schizophrenia, news that he said was both terrifying and relieving.

Seal says he won't let his mental illness get in the way of the things he loves, like hiking and climbing. (Brent Seal)

He says he was finally able to understand what was happening in his head with the support of family and friends.

"It was caring. It was accommodating my needs in school. If I didn't want to go out and party, [friends] would meet with me one on one. [There was] a lot of accommodations that I needed at that time that I didn't expect — I expected my best friends never to talk to me again but that wasn't the case."

Seal graduated from Simon Fraser University as class valedictorian, and then founded a company that motivates other youth affected by mental illness.

Brent Seal shares his battle with schizophrenia at a TedxTalk. (TedxTalk/YouTube)

"When you hear that you've impacted someone in a deep and meaningful way, that's pretty much what I live for."

The Here-2-There 3.0 Your Climb to Mental Wellness forum is set for Feb. 2, 207 at 149 West Hastings St.

Click here to watch his conversation with Gloria Macarenko on Our Vancouver

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