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Mark's Story

My name is Mark Nutarak, I am 38 years old and from Pond Inlet, Nunavut. I work with the Department of Health as a Mental Health Assistant. My work that I do is like a clerk. I am schizophrenic. I was diagnosed as schizophrenic in 2005. Even though I have this diagnosis, it is not all that I am.

Growing up I struggled with an addiction to marijuana form a young age. I first smoked marijuana at the age of 13. I believe that the use of marijuana triggered my schizophrenia. Whenever I smoked and got high, I felt that my signs and symptoms of schizophrenia worsened.

When I was officially diagnosed as schizophrenic, I was in disbelieve and denial that I was this was true. I didn’t want to take my medication and just want to continue to get high on marijuana. I had a lot of psychotic episodes in span of three years. At different times I had a lot of fear, a lack of trust in everyone. I became a “regular”, having to return to the same mental hospital in those years.

The day I was diagnosed, I was in prescribed a kind of schizophrenic medication that, for the most part I didn’t take them. Instead, I smoked marijuana constantly. When I came to the realization that I really needed to take my medication and stop smoking marijuana, I was able to change my life. I began to take my diagnosis seriously and started to take my medication and what created a big change was I stopped smoking marijuana.

When I started experiencing psychosis at the age of 23, my family was mostly supportive. I think my parents understood that I was ill and needed help. When I stopped smoking marijuana I stopped hanging out with a lot of my friends and seems like I lost most to them. To this day we still do not hang out anymore. This can be hard and a big challenge, but the changes I made needed to be done for me and benefitted those who truly care about me as well. None of this is easy. As I mentioned, when I was first diagnosed, I went to mental health facilities because I was really struggling. Even more recently, I went to Akausisarvik because I stop taking my medication for brief period. Now, I am back on my medication and feeling like myself again.

My advice for those people who are schizophrenic or are struggling with any psychosis diagnoses is just to take your medication and if you struggle with any kind of recreational drug use, stop so you can get better.