Neil was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in January of 2000. He was attending the University of Waterloo majoring in computer science when he began his decline. He was forced to abandon that degree and return to his native Niagara Falls to live with his parents.
Neil’s story though, is not one of tragedy, but one of hope and choosing hope. Thanks to wonderfully supportive friends and family, Neil over time he developed skills to cope with his illness and the side effects of his medication.
After a false start in 2000, he returned to Brock University in spring of 2006. Like many large institutions, they didn’t quite know what to do with him. His marks, due to his illness, were less than stellar.
He walked into an advanced calculus class having not done math in over six years. He finished at the top of the class. Neil’s success continued, with him graduating in spring of 2010 with a B.Sc. in Mathematics and achieving, (in spite of the low grades on his previous transcripts) First Class Standing.
Neil got involved with Mathematics Education research in the second year of his studies and has been the co-author of a peer-reviewed conference proceeding paper and a peer-reviewed paper published in a major international journal. His Honours Thesis, Do Mathematicians Integrate Computer Algebra Systems in University Teaching? Comparing a Literature Review and an International Survey Study has been published in the international journal Computers & Education.
He has continued his path in research and now is nearing completion of his M.Sc. in Mathematics, with a research focus on Mathematics Education. In 2011 he won an Ontario Graduate Scholarship for his Masters in Science. He hopes to continue these studies with a Ph.D. in Mathematics but again with a research focus on Mathematics Education. Recently, Neil won a national scholarship competition as is now the recipient of the Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship for Doctoral Studies.
Neil suffered a relapse of symptoms in late December of 2011. It was the first time in ten years Neil had had to face the full onslaught of his illness. It was caused by stresses in his life that Neil had little or no control over. It was what he most feared. Neil chose hope though again, like he did in the dark days of 2000. He’s still in school and still a Teaching Assistant at the university, though he might have to take another term to complete his degree.
He started this blog on the realization that while his friends and family had a great understanding of what he was going through with his relapse, others in his life needed to understand better what he was going through. He hopes that through this personal journey of his, by being upfront with his illness and sharing his personal experiences with that illness, he might help make a better world not for just himself but for anyone who has a mental illness, or has a friend or family member who does.
When Neil isn’t doing math, education research, or mental health issues, Neil likes to build computers, read about silly conspiracy theories on the internets, read books and talk to his friends and share in their lives.
Neil is a person, on a journey he didn’t choose but on one that has let him meet wonderful people and do wonderful things. He is always thankful for all the people in his life which has made such a thing possible.
You can follow Neil on Twitter (though with school he is sometimes quite busy) @Unprofound_Schi
Neil’s Story has been featured in the St. Catharines Standard and other local SunMedia Newspapers, The Toronto Star, and CHCH News.
For more about Neil’s Story, you can check out the Neil’s Story Category of Posts