Hi, my name is Jobim Novak but I go by Jo. I was born in Guatemala to a poor mother who wanted a better life for me. She put me up for adoption as an infant and I was adopt-ed by two loving people from Toronto who are my parents. I was raised in a Jewish household and attended Hebrew Day school from kindergarten to Grade 8 where I was bullied and misunderstood by my peers and some teachers.
At a young age it was apparent that I was very articulate and loved language but was told in school not to use my gift because it would make my peers look stupid. When I was in grade 7 I realized something wasn’t right in my brain and began hearing voices and expe-riencing hallucinations but I didn’t tell anyone for fear of being misunderstood.
By grade 8 I had had enough of the bullying and by grade 9 I set out to befriend people I thought would accept me. I started smoking pot, drinking and began what would become a lengthy on and off addiction to pain killers (specifically oxycontin). At the time I still hadn’t told anyone about my psychotic symptoms. Although I was not a gangster, I ro-manticized the tough guy image and the things that went with it.
On a few occasions I also tried taking my life. At the age of 16 I entered rehab (my first of two) where I remained until I had my first episode of psychosis. After being discharged I was admitted to the youth ward at Sunnybrook Hospital where I was diagnosed as having schizophrenia with depression and anxiety. I was clean but I didn’t know how to live a sober life. I was still haunted by my schizophrenia which was so isolating. Because of that, I ended up in rehab again.
At that point I made the decision to stay sober and live a good life, a life that I deserved to have. Today my symptoms have subsided and I am thriving. I have also made it to 21.