Leonard (Len) Reynen
While schizophrenia does not define Len, it has drastically altered the course of his life. At age thirteen Len was a gifted student and athlete. However, depression and suicidal ideation marked the onset of Len's mental illness. For Len, at this young age, a supportive family combined with professional mental health help was not enough. Over the next several years, Len turned to self-medication to alleviate the pain he was experiencing. While substance abuse temporarily helped him escape, it ultimately exacerbated his symptoms.
After high school, Len was diagnosed with schizophrenia, which affects everyone differently. For Len, it meant bouts of delusions, and paranoia. At times, he believed that co-workers, and even his family members, were trying to kill him or that some agency was plotting against him. Failed attempts at college and university, along with suicide attempts followed. In 2015, Len realized that he needed to make a change.
Since then, Len has been sober, and has received a diploma in Public Relations from Algonquin College. He has also been a guest speaker for several mental health fundraising initiatives. While Len is now an advocate for those living with mental illness, he would not have made it this far were it not for loving friends and family. The hope continually instilled throughout his journey was crucial to his progress.
Schizophrenia may not define Len, but it is his goal to use his experience to hopefully help others afflicted with mental illness.