Max is 26 years old, a hefty build and straight black hair; he looks aboriginal and self-identifies as Metis. He has long-term mental health issues, the manifestation of which he describes in some detail, along with explanations for what causes his illness – he paints the picture of a difficult family life, and no help from school or other organizations -- and the shortcoming of interventions offered by extended family and the medical system. Max self-identifies as gay. He is intense, dramatic, a bit flamboyant in his presentation. It was difficult because of his mental functioning to reach a good understanding of this complicated story.
FM: Let’s start by you telling me a bit about yourself. I see from your application that you were raised in Farm County, and are Metis. Where were you raised, exactly, and what the composition of your family –siblings etc., -- and what did your family do to support itself, etc.
Okay. I was raised in Eastville for a time, about five years. Then we moved to Westville and I lived there for 8 years, I was 13 when we moved back to Eastville. My dad was driving a rock truck for a local company and my mom was working for privatized home care in Farm County as well.
Sibling rivalry happens… but there’s nothing too fracturing about my brother and I. We have a perfect relationship.
FM: So is he older or younger than you?
He’s two years younger than me; he’s 24.
FM: Okay. We’ll proceed by numbering the places that you’ve lived since you left your family home, and I’ll ask questions about each decision.
Perfect. When I left home, I walked three hours in bare feet to my cousin’s place in Centretown [a town about 25 km distant].
FM: And when was that and what was your thinking about making that decision?
That was actually the end of April, 2011. It wasn’t just me and my brother having a disagreement. It was me, my brother and my father having a disagreement. And I just – I was 25 years old and I’d had enough of family destruction or being part of a family destruction. I just couldn’t handle the mental trauma any more. My brain just couldn’t absorb any more pain, guilt, whatever you want to call it. It was just overbearing. So whatever I had on in the house, I just left with what I had.
FM: Is the specific source of the disagreement important to this story?
I find that it’s not. Not at all. Because maybe it was time to venture off, for me to find out what it was like to live on my own. I’ve always [wanted] to live on my own, make my own decisions, to be me.
FM: Let’s go back a bit further. So you were 13 when your family returned to Eastville. Did you complete high school?
Yes, I got my grade 12 diploma.
FM: And then?
I learned the farming industry when we moved there [Eastville], how to raise meat to survive, to raise horses, we raised pleasuresome animals. We learned responsibility on how to take care of a living vessel.
FM: So was that a family business?
That was a family business minus one. My mother just wanted to see how we could co-exist, how we could work together, to view her family enjoying – and it is enjoying – the responsibilities of … I don’t know how to say that.
FM: Maybe just a bit of clarification here. So when your family moved back to Eastville, they moved on to a farm?
Yeah, a hobby farm, 34 1/2 acres.
FM: And was this the source of family income or did your dad still work, your mom?
Work was still involved on their behalf, and mine as well.
FM: What did you do?
I worked at Subway for a year and saved money to buy my own horse. And proceeds going toward or help buying farm animals, calves for example, goats. Chickens, meat birds.
FM: So this job at Subway was after you finished grade 12?
No, before; I was 16 when I got the job.
FM: Okay, so when you were in school, you planned to have a life working on the family farm and supporting yourself in that way?
Yeah. This is going to be very touchy and … I may cry. My whole dream was to have a farm and live sufficiently off the land, more or less. I wanted more than just the responsibility of taking care of myself and my family, I wanted it to be a big operation so my parents wouldn’t have to work any more and they wouldn’t have to lug their guts out. My dad had awful stress working with the truck. My mom working in private care with elderly, the chances she was taking with people dying, I know they say you shouldn’t have a connection, you shouldn’t be attached, but it is very hard to not do that when you’re with the person for years, six to eight hour days. I seen the torture they were putting themselves by just to get by. And afford our property, that was what it was all for, it was for us.
It worked out for five years since we got animals but it didn’t stay. The examples that were shown by working together was an improvement.
FM: Improvement over what?
How well we could work together as a team. How we could be strong by being a family and knowing how each other works and how the routine works and how the schedule was made for each of us to take a shift on the duties of taking care of young livestock.
FM: Okay, so was the idea of moving to a farm your parents’ plan to help you and your brother learn responsibility, or was it to work as a family unit in some new way? And just to reference back, what did you mean when you said all minus one, which seemed to be your mom.
I knew you were going to do that. It came down to it; my mother had made a decision. We couldn’t live in the government home. They were wanting to buy it but the deal was false. So my mom had a family conference and she gave us some choices that were allegedly correct at the time because we needed choices to -- I dunno, provide for ourselves.
FM: Because why?
They were tired of being hassled themselves. They were trying to find a way that was going to suit them, suit us so that we could an easier, happier life, a fairy tale ending. So the choices that were given to us happened to be owning a restaurant, owning a cottage and working, like a year-round cottage, even if we did have to fix it up, or a farm. And I thought – which was on my own decision – that when we had taken care of the work plan of owning a restaurant, making a menu and coming up with prices, and figuring out how we were going to pay the mortgage on the building, or even if we had to rent a building, how much we were going to have to make in a day to make ends meet. And the cottage, well it was quite expensive, we were looking at $200,000 and up, even if [it] was one with a large waterfront and your own personal swimming rights. But it wasn’t enough. There was something that was missing.
I decided – or she and I decided – I was trying to make a decision and I was talking to her about what would better us. Because I like to make money and the best thing was a farm. And it did not fall through. It worked immensely. We raised seven cows in a five-year span, and out of those seven cows, at least three of them were sold. At least two died on us. Two went into our freezer and three were sold. And we had 16 goats that we had taken to a stock sale who brought in quite a large sum of money. And after that time everything just fell through.
FM: And why was that, do you think?
I’m so glad you asked that question. I think it fell through because we had learned what it was like to have a busy schedule, time for play as well as work, and we did what we set out to do. There was nothing bad about it. We did it honestly. We did it the right way. And we learned from it. That was my decision. I guess the reason for me leaving was for them to see what they could do without me there, without me making the decisions for them. And from what I can see from a stand-back viewpoint, they have survived. They had a sawmill business that lasted five years itself, not making that much money from it but equaling out to what meat and food we had in the freezer, and pleasurable items. And now they’re back working in the work force again. So I guess either way, no matter what could have been done, their way is what their life is set in and that’s how they are. I don’t fit into that category. It’s not for me.
FM: Okay. What is for you?
Sufficiency. Knowing that I can take care of myself, take care of my food that I’m going to eat for myself. And if I have extras I know I can provide that for others so that they don’t starve as well. I can be very dynamic when it comes to surviving on my own. I know what I need to do. I know what it is in my head what has to be done and I can get it done. I know how long it takes to raise what I need to raise and make sure food is plentiful.
FM: Talk a bit about your current living situation.
It is hell! Trying to survive on funds – not saying that it’s bad, what our government gives us – but trying to live on a regulated amount is not the greatest. Living in town where there is cheap living materials is not the greatest. Knowing that you had all this at your fingertips and it was just wiped away from you is the worst feeling because it makes you feel worthless because you couldn’t keep the factors rolling. You couldn’t have – or I couldn’t have -- what I needed to keep everything uplifted, current, because people get tired out, they get lazy, they choose not to do anything. They choose to do their own thing because they know someone else will take the fall. And the fall always ended up on my shoulders. It always came back to me. They always said why didn’t you do this, why didn’t you do that, you’re not doing anything. And I was working, paying for feed, paying for feed, paying for animals to come in, halfing on things, and the interest was already gone before I could make money to make it substantial. And the jobs I was getting was stressful enough, but the stress was worse when I was home because they were at me like a pack of vultures ripping open a dead carcass.
FM: You said in your application form that you are under treatment for some mental health issues. Want to expand on that a bit, in particular how long that has been a part of your life?
Since I was young, I’ve always had problems. It started with irritable bowel syndrome, I had colic when I was a kid. It was created by the water I was drinking, the town water. I couldn’t digest it, I would projectile vomit. Now I’m being tested for mental disability per se, which I do feel it’s not my fault but I’ve been put under a lot of pressured situations that did not really concern me, that were forced on me. And now I’m looking at severe mental illness. I’ve already gone to my doctor and I’ve threatened him. I told him I’d take everything away from [him] because he wouldn’t help me. His secretary wouldn’t prescribe me an appointment and I couldn’t breathe. I have anxiety that is so wrath that it feels like my heart is pounding out of my chest. And my anger rises when I can’t breathe so it feels like I’ve got a double dose of I’m not sure what, and no one will listen to me so I have to somehow get their attention and it seems that being vulgar and abusive upon my person shows that that there is a problem.
FM: So I’m hearing some long-term physical difficulties, gut related, and then a more recent history of anxiety and difficulty managing anger. Would that be an accurate description?
Yes, that would be accurate.
FM: And what treatment have you had, and when?
Hmm. 3 weeks ago I went to the doctor and he prescribed me a mood adjustment tablet, it’s used for stress, anger and stuff. It’s a night-time pill and helped me sleep. I couldn’t sleep – my body was filled with a lot of rage, I was holding everything because I didn’t want to spew it on someone so I created this whole circuit of dysfunction inside my body because there was no one out there to help and when I couldn’t handle it anymore I just lashed out.
FM: Did that ever get you in trouble with the law?
No, good thing. Because it was the first time the law has seen me like this. It was the third time and no one had seen me except my doctor. And if the cops did see me on the third time, I would have been put away. They would have probably done a lot of worse things than I did. Because when I was caught twice in Eastville crying and running hysterically, they told me to freeze and take my hands out of my pockets and asked me why I was acting odd; he said What are you doing? Why are you running? Where are you running to? And why in the hell are you crying?
I’d just had an outing with my parents and the family that I’m living with now, they don’t seem to understand the limits of space, nor can they explain to me why this conflict is happening, what I’ve actually done, because I keep recalling in my memory that I haven’t done anything wrong but I seem to keep paying for it. By suffering.
FM: Can we swoop back a bit to the first move, [#1] you leaving the family farm in your bare feet and going to your cousin’s place. You said you left because you had a disagreement with the family, or parts of it. Why your cousin’s place?
Because my Aunt C was visiting our family and I had just seen her the night before and the next day I was pointed out as a thief.
FM: By whom?
My dad and my brother. Saying that I stole something from them. And I never took anything. It’s my own house; why would I steal from it?
FM: What did they say you’d stolen?
It was how they spoke to me. They pronounced by being aggressive in my favour.
FM: What does that mean?
It means they were yelling at me, swinging their hands in my face, like jumping up and down like raged lunatics, treating me like I was a two-year-old. And I had no idea what was going on, all I know I was being accused of something. And I ended that fight real quick.
FM: By leaving?
No. I fought for my honour first and then I left. I have more dignity than they ever thought. And they got to witness it first hand.
FM: Okay, so you left, you walked to Centretown. Did your cousin take you in?
Immediately. The first person who was at the door was my Aunt C. She asked me what the hell was going on, why are you looking like this, you look dysfunctional. I told her I had a fight with my family. Well, I didn’t have them [shoes] on and I was thrown out the door when I had finished my say. Cheap seats – my father grabbed me by the throat and chucked me out the door because I was going to kill my brother because he called me a thief. No, he didn’t call me a thief, he pressured me into thinking I was a thief by saying over and over that I took something of his of great value.
FM: Okay. So how long did you stay at your cousin’s place?
One evening and I was out by the afternoon. [#2] They told me I had to go and live with my Uncle. I stayed with him for two weeks and that was insanity. The man is so self-absorbed inside himself, so paranoid that someone is coming to get him, that my psyche was being lowered each time he opened his mouth.
FM: Let me ask a question before you go on. Why did your Aunt C think that going to live with him was a good idea?
She just wanted me in a safe place for the time being. It was just a place for me to have the time to readjust to the current situation, how I was going to take the next step to survive. And how to be thinking on my own.
FM: So this is about a year or 16 months ago, right?
Yes. And I still keep in touch with my family, I still talk to the a-holes.
FM: Any thought that you would return home? On your part? On theirs?
No. My mom says I can never go back. She got what she wanted.
FM: Which was?
I haven’t come the conclusion yet of what she wanted yet but I’m pretty sure there’s something waiting on her doorstep in due time. And I know that she’s not going to be able to handle stress the way I can, so she’s going to be looking at a dangerous situation.
FM: How so?
Two men who think they own the world and want everything at their fingertips and when you can’t provide that, tempers do flare. And they will get what they want, no matter how hard they work at it, they will drag you down.
FM: So are these two men your father and brother?
FM: Would you consider returning home if that were offered?
No, I wouldn’t, much as I love them now that I’m further away from that, no, now that I have some boundaries, I would never put myself in that situation.
FM: Okay. So from your Uncle’s place was what?
[#3] I walked with a pair of shoes on my feet and a coat on my back and three bags of clothes and personal stuff to Westville, and that took 4 ½ hours to my Aunt D’s place. And oh was that a treat. Nine months living there, I could have cut my head off a thousand times over.
FM: What do you mean?
There is so much chaos and confusion in their lives, so much drama, and they had three young kids plus a young disabled daughter who was in her 30s and they were trying to balance their lives, let me in to help me because I’ve helped them in the past and it was – they just kept telling [me] I couldn’t stay there. It was worse than anything to get my brain straightened around so I could get out of the dark and into the light. I worked for two months as an exterior painter and the money that I was making, like $200 - $300 a week, it wasn’t enough. They just wanted my money.
[#4] Finally I found my apartment by November 2011. I moved out Dec 3, 2011. Thank God. I was so glad to leave there. I was so done with people at that point in time that I just concealed myself in my little hole, away from anything that would disturb my well-being.
FM: Were you under medical care at this time?
No, I had been denied. I couldn’t get an appointment. I couldn’t do anything. I just grinned and beared it.
FM: Do you mean you couldn’t get it together to ask for an appointment, or you asked and it was denied?
It was asked for and it was denied.
FM: On what basis?
He had no time for the next two weeks so I said, in two weeks – I don’t have time to wait that long so I’m going to have to do that without your help. And I did. I just let it build up, let it build up, let it build up. Until my way was lit for me and then I got what I needed but I suffered with stress that was put on my shoulders but what could I do, I couldn’t relieve it, I couldn’t control it, it just simmered inside me.
FM: And this led up to the episode that you described earlier?
That’s right. I became irritable. Things – my temper shortened. My concentration shortened. I had a fuse that was maybe an inch long. And I just couldn’t – I had no value. There was no value. I didn’t know how to get value for myself. And it took a long time when I moved into my house for my parents to come and see me after that.
And when they did come and see me, they’re like oh, you’re not right, you don’t seem right. And I said, yeah, I have been telling you that I’m not right for years and you keep putting more pressure on me, just gnawing and biting at my skin.
FM: For how long, do you think, this ‘not right’ ness had been in place for you?
All of my life. All of my life. I mean it. My birthdays – they picked special occasions to have a fight on, like after we’ve been out visiting someone was the worst. There was no happy point. There was no peaches and cream. Even special occasions, like visiting or if we were camping, if something wasn’t going right for one of the adults or both, either I or my brother were in shit. In shit!!! There was one time and I told my brother – we were gonna get spanked – if we didn’t pack out pants with something soft that we were gonna get a spanking. We packed our pants with socks and underwear so we wouldn’t feel a slap on the ass. That’s minimizing it, but I’ll say it like that.
FM: Okay, all this stress and violence in the home. Did anybody outside the home know about it or seem to care? The school? The CAS??
No, there was only one and she knew that my mom and dad would make us go into hysterics and that my mom and dad fed off hysterics.
FM: Who is she?
My Aunt L, my dad’s sister. Aunt C was my mom’s sister. There was many a time that my Aunt L walked into the apartment in Eastville and said she wasn’t leaving until these kids were settled down. No one – the schools didn’t know what was going on. CAS – my mom just wished we’d call them – “Call them, you’re gonna get it before they’re here.” And my dad would just side with her, just wait for her to do something because it was funny. And as soon as I picked up the phone, I’d knew we’d get it. They’re just that kind of people. And I always thought that. Always. Waiting for one second when you betray someone. She always said, I’m your mother. I brought you into this world and I can take you out.
FM: Was she threatening to do you in?
No, I think she was just scaring us. Not knowing what the consequences were after she’d scared us.
FM: And what were the consequences?
Well, if she’d have hit us and we’d called the Children’s Aid, she’d have gone to jail or something and I think she was just testing the boundaries. She hit me in the face once with a fly swatter. It was an accident, but still.
FM: Let me ask here about your brother. How did he fare?
How do you mean?
FM: Well, you’ve said that the stress in your family has created big emotional or mental health problems for you. Did he pay a lesser price or a different price?
Yeah he turned out to be just like them. He’s daddy’s little boy, and mommy’s little boy and they just like it with me out of the way.
FM: Okay. Can we turn to a couple of other things that you mentioned on your application. You said you were gay, and that you are Metis. How do either of those factors influence your story, if at all?
Yes. I am gay and I am an Indian. The Indian part doesn’t matter because almost everyone in this area has some Indian background. But the homosexuality – oh my!! It’s unbearable sometimes. People are getting so used to it now, but when I first came out at 18 years it was so horrendous. My dad told me I had a week to leave, I couldn’t stay there because I was queer. I lost a lot of friends. A lot of people said I’d lied because I’d kept it a secret for so long. And maybe vulnerable. People thought I was weaker when I came out, like ha ha ha I’m just a gay bitch, eh? No, I’m still me. I’ll still stand my ground and I did. I think they didn’t like it because it made me be stronger standing up for myself.
FM: So how old were you when you realized that your sexual orientation was a bit different ?
You would never guess. No one would ever guess. I was in between the age of five and eight years old and my grandpa was in the hospital with lung cancer. And the male doctors and nurses were quite delightful to my eye. It was something – it was just weird. I shouldn’t have been that age but I knew it was something that I liked. I would never tell someone that I liked to look at them, their facial structure, their body build, something else below the belt. And it was just, it was something that should have been kept a secret.
FM: And what drove you to tell it?
I had a lot of secure friends around me who wanted me to admit – and it was my girlfriends that told me because their boyfriends/lovers were catching me with my wandering eyes just enhancing their f’ing persons. Their own person. I was just gawking at them. It was kinda creepy – they said that guy is kinda weird. It wasn’t just like looking, it was more intense, it was like a love basis. Or lust, whatever you want to call it.
FM: And what age was this?
Between the ages of 16 and 18. When I was 16 I was working, right, we had all these men coming in and I was serving customers so they couldn’t tell the difference between what I was actually doing and what I was taught to do by the franchise.
FM: So you’re saying you were ogling the customers but nobody noticed?
FM: But you did?
Yes, I knew what I was doing. I knew exactly what I was doing. But they would do it to me first. I don’t know if it was a coaxing or what. They would test the waters before they would do anything back.
FM: So were you sexually active at this time?
No I wasn’t at the time. I’m waiting for the right guy. It took two years for one guy to seal the deal. And it didn’t turn out. He was bi-polar and his moods became worse when his kids were growing in the womb and he went squirrely and I haven’t seen him since.
FM: You said bi-polar but maybe you meant bi-sexual?
No, he’s bi-polar; he’s got meds for it. I’m not sure he was bi-sexual or not, maybe he just wanted to try it out, but his trying was obscene.
FM: Okay. I was going to ask about whether this was a factor in the tension with your family, but you’ve said your dad threatened to thrown you out. But he didn’t.
Right. He didn’t. Well… I used to experiment a lot with my older cousins and as much as it pains me to say it I have experience with intermediary family, not adults but kids, like kids experiment. I was a child when we were experimenting. And there could be some hot water around that that may have caused some of that tension. Because I’ve always been looking for the feeling of love, someone feeling something for me. I have never felt that. I have not felt it. It’s here today and gone tomorrow. And that’s on a social level, too.
FM: Okay. So I think we’ve got the story of your housing moves, and quite a bit about health. Something about a slight flirtation with the justice system – one event that was more mental health than criminal activity. One job you’ve described, the Subway job. Can we talk a bit about school? You finished high school; did you like school? Did you ever think you would go to post sec?
No I didn’t like school and no I would not go to college. I did think about it but no. The same thing that happened to me in high school would also happen to me at college. I need a lot of focus on the teacher so I can hear what they are telling me and what I’m supposed to be learning out of the text book so I can put it on paper and get the marks I need. Not putting my hand up and getting another explanation, that’s just confusing, that’s not the help I need.
I did, though, I did take a private course, an apprenticeship in blacksmithing, trimming horses’ feet, learning how to put shoes on, learning about nail size to fit the shoe and the horse.
FM: When was that?
That was in 2005-2006, I was working at a restaurant and banquet hall as a server, fine dining environment, and I went after hours two times a week for $250/day and I was trimming my own horses’ feet. And again, the conflict arose. I wasn’t doing a good enough job even though I was taught by a professional. I was breaking down the horses. Even though that was a lie. I’ve had lots of compliments by standard bred racetrack jockeys who said I did a lovely job on their horses’ feet. And the people I learned from wouldn’t let me go unless they liked the job I was doing because I did their horses’ feet. My boss was nice to me – she’d seen what I’d come from. My parents treated me exactly like they would treat me at home in front of them, because they wanted to know why I was so shy and bashful. I was quiet at their house, and when I thought I was getting in trouble I’ll cover my ass real quick. And they noticed that, quite a bit, and they thought that wasn’t right, you shouldn’t be covering up when you didn’t know what you were doing is wrong.
FM: So how long did that last?
I did if for 4 months. I did a lot of book work. He had a lot of old tests that weren’t marked. And when I learned about all of the problems of the feet, I could put the book to the feet. And that’s when I started trimming.
FM: And just to go back a bit, about the trouble you had at school. Were ever identified as having a learning disability?
No. The teachers did complain to my parents that I wasn’t absorbing the information, but no there was no suggestion about identifying me as a student. I was just passed by. I was just passed by. There was only a care for a short period of time; that was as good as the results got.
FM: Okay, I think this might end the story, and then some other questions?
FM: In order to shape this story a bit for the people who will read it, will you say what you think is the Most Important Event in this story, the thing that happened or didn’t happen, that most strongly influenced the way the story unfolded.
What do you mean by that, just so I get a clear viewing?
FM: I’m asking you to review in your mind the story you’ve shared, and then direct our attention to what you think is the centre of the story, the pivotal moment or event or absence of something.
Ah the whole view of this story is about experience. It’s to experience life’s surroundings. My life wasn’t great. But whose is? I have a few threatening time in my life but you have to learn to accept the fact that life doesn’t just throw you candy and get you giddy all the time. It’s about learning morals. So I learned that I couldn’t live with my family. I learned that their perspective of how they should live does not co-exist with my idea of how I should live. It has nothing to do with who was right and who was wrong and how it worked. It has to do with how I treated each situation to my advantage to know what is in my vision and what I want to complete as the goals perceive themselves or open us so I can get an advantage, so I can say yeah, all those goals that appeared in my door, I didn’t create them, I just learned how to work with them.
FM: Okay, that’s more a philosophy than an event. Was there a time, a point of punctuation in the story stream, that made you come to that realization?
Yeah. Yeah it did. Blame is probably a key factor in that. You can only blame yourself and others until you can’t blame them any more and that’s when you have to learn to accept challenges in order to release the blame.
FM: are we talking about you blaming others or others blaming you, as the key element?
I think it works both ways. They blamed me so I blamed them back. So it worked on a switchboard level. But if you step back and look, how childish is it to figure out that blaming someone is right? It’s not. It’s not anyone’s fault that choices are made by you or by them, it’s how you work through each situation and how when you get through that situation there is no blame, there’s just an easy route to take at the time so we can be lazy.
FM: Okay. My next question is to ask your opinion about how this story is going to turn out in the long run. The people who will read the story, which stops here, will have some curiosity, probably some opinion, about how it’s likely to turn out. I’d like to hear your opinion: How do you see the future? Are you optimistic or not so much?
I am optimistic. I am. I’m able to do many things. I can do many things. And I don’t plan just sitting around saying oh where did my time go. I’m going to put forth some energy and put forth some options that may be outrageous to some people. Like my skills, I would love to put them back into my life again. I just need to take time for me in order to assort each – I can’t even say it’s a problem – each step in facing the new goal that’s in front of me. You always have to look at what’s in front of you. Right now there’s a blank slate. And you have to say, okay there’s a blank slate and you have to figure out that there’s some perspective waiting to be grabbed. But you have to make that blank slate that you’re grabbing grabbable so you have to make that decision of what you’re going to do piece by piece so that you can put together the fragments of your life, what’s important to you.
FM: Let me ask: what is important to you? What is the goal that you are going to work toward, one step at a time, as you describe
I’m going to try and open a free clinic or even one that collects funds. The clinic is an equine clinic for the mentally challenged. So I will have therapy horses for those that don’t respond to human interactions, who can delegate on the feeling of this loving creature that will show the most creative aspects into the slowest person’s life. And that’s what I plan to do. I plan to help people envision who they are and what they want to be by envisioning who they should be by interacting with people who have the time and have the care to show others that they have what it takes to be accepted by themselves and others and that they are capable of using that to their advantage.
FM: Okay, we’re running long, so two more questions quickly. Advice question number one: What advice would you give your younger self, whether or not your younger self would take the advice, that would make this story, your story, more likely to have a positive outcome?
Don’t give up. Don’t fly under the radar. Be who you are no matter who likes you or not. You stand up for yourself because the only person who is the boss of you is you. You are the only one you have to answer to. You only have the tools you were given inside yourself as well as outside yourself. You must use them appropriately to your own psyche. And that will help the steps from the beginning to the end to come to closure and make you feel comfortable in your own skin.
FM: Okay and second advice question: What advice would you give to those of us who want to be helpful to youth like yourself, what advice would you give us?
Before you become helpful to youth, you must understand how the youth think. In order to assist them in making a better life for themselves, making better choices, decision-making, it’s all about being in tune with the person you’re helping, paying attention to what’s going on around you. Showing a little bit of respect and caring goes a long way.
FM: I couldn’t agree with you more. Thank you.