David K. Henry
David’s story is a study in resilience. A truck driver by profession, his life has been punctuated by far too many accidents that would have meant the end for many, but instead made him who he is today: a man with a mission to help others.
In his youth, David was an active, spirited young man well in control of his life. He was a rugby player and brushed off the frequent injuries that come hand in hand with the sport, refusing to show weakness of any sort. However, in 1986, he suffered a violent blow to the head that made a chink in the armour he had forged for himself. David’s coach and peers never talked about brain injuries, and the impacts of such traumas were generally swept under the rug in his circle. So while he was compromised by the incident, David forged ahead without giving it much more thought. But in 1991, tragedy struck again when he fell victim to a terrible accident on a farm. Every effort was made to keep him alive and, after numerous surgeries and much medical care, he beat the odds. His body was in good hands—thanks to medicine, David, still a young man, was able to get back on his feet. However, the same couldn’t be said for his mental health. Though David returned to normal life, he carried a host of internal wounds that would scar the decade to come. In silence, he noted that his memory was failing him. What’s more, he was struggling with aggression. He knew that something about him had changed, but he lacked the words and understanding to pin down the source of his pain.
In 2001, while on the road in Florida, David was involved in a serious collision that changed the trucker’s life forever. On the face of it, David didn't seem badly injured, but his head had taken yet another hit. It was too much for him. On the way back home, he suffered his first major panic attack and could no longer function. He knew that he needed help. With the support of his wife and family, he sought care to improve his psychological state. Heeding the advice of all his physical and mental health caregivers was no easy task. Still, though the results weren’t perfect, David made progress. Feeling less alone, he opened up about some of his struggles and got involved in activities that were good for him. He started writing for a truck drivers’ magazine, penning upbeat articles with an emphasis on finding solutions. He wanted to encourage his colleagues in the field to take better care of their mental health and adopt a more positive outlook. David worked hard to follow his own advice, even though he wasn’t always successful.
In 2016, when he suffered yet another work-related injury, David couldn’t take it anymore. He felt exhausted and fed up, and was assailed by suicidal thoughts. The blows that had accumulated over the years had finally caught up with him. This accident would be a turning point in David’s life. To help him recover, his insurance provider offered him the chance to enter a multi-week rehabilitation program centred around a truly holistic approach. David could hardly believe it: a team would see to his entire well-being, taking care of his mind, body and soul. The care he received through the program and the people he met, particularly occupational therapist Sylvia Marusyk, would prove pivotal, and David made a remarkable improvement. David’s life has been marked by a great deal of suffering. During his rehabilitation, people told him that he had quite a story to share. Later, he would do just that, devoting himself to helping others in their own journeys.
Being there for those around us needn’t require grand gestures. It can be as simple as treating others with kindness, saying thank you, paying a compliment, getting up to speak about your experience at a seminar or sharing something from your garden with a passerby. Actions like these have made a world of difference to David, just as they now brighten the lives of all those who cross his path.
These days, David speaks publicly about his experiences to promote better mental health in the trucking industry, and hosts a podcast, Crazy Canuck Truckin’.