Nova Scotia

How one man turned his mental health struggles into a career inspiring others

Tyler Simmonds is using his experiences with anxiety and depression to better himself and inspire others.

'I want my life to be my message,' says Tyler Simmonds of North Preston

Tyler Simmonds thinks the health care system needs to make it a priority to show mental health patients that it cares about them. (CBC)

Tyler Simmonds always felt different than everyone else at school, so one day he decided to find out why.

At 14 years old, the North Preston, N.S., resident went to the library and searched for the answer to: "Why am I always sad for no reason?"

The results came up as anxiety and depression.

His parents then brought him to a doctor that referred him to a psychiatrist for an assessment.

For Simmonds, the medication that was prescribed was helpful, but it wasn't enough.

"The human connection and people genuinely caring, nothing can help more than that," he said.

Tyler Simmonds shows off the award he won at the Bluenose Ability Film Festival. (Kyah Sparks/CBC)

Now 26, he said he has gone to doctors' offices and felt ignored, which he says is the last thing you need when you're anxious and depressed.

"I think the health care system needs to make it a priority to be like, 'We got to show this person we genuinely care,'" said Simmonds.

He got that kind of support at the Cole Harbour/Eastern HRM Community Mental Health clinic.

"The first day I went there, I was like 'Wow! These people actually care' and that's when I started to feel better," said Simmonds.

He created a short film about depression and anxiety and submitted it to the Bluenose Ability Film Festival. Last December, In My Mind was awarded best short film of the year.

"It's about what it feels like going through a day feeling depressed and anxious and even having suicidal thoughts. It shows you can have loving people around you but you still feel alone," he said.

Simmonds is working to challenge himself and inspire others.

"I do public speaking and the thing is I have social anxiety, so it's like I'm supposed to be afraid to speak to one person and I [instead] speak to a bunch of people," said Simmonds.

His website has digital books about mental health and meditation, merchandise labelled with inspirational quotes and is linked to his YouTube channel where he gives advice.

Simmonds said he believes the main purpose in life is to be yourself and be there for other people. He said when he made this realization, everything started going uphill for him.

"I want my life to be my message," said Simmonds.