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Toronto man overcomes mental health challenges through music

Facing mental illness and addiction with perseverance and dignity
WATCH ABOVE: Facing mental illness and addiction with perseverance and dignity

For 21-year-old Jobim Novak, music has given him a second chance and a way out from a very dark place.

“I spent a lot of my teen years, in fact all of them addicted to drugs and struggling with mental health issues and schizophrenia,” says Novak. “Even though at that time, I didn’t know that was what I had.”

Novak was overwhelmed by the voices he heard and the hallucinations he experienced. He soon discovered music as a way to cope.

“It gave me a focus. It gave me a voice. It gave me a reason to live,” said Novak.

He entered rehab for substance abuse, taking that first step to recovery, but he did not do it alone. Novak started attending writing workshops at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health’s out-patient centre, L.E.A.R.N.

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Moshe Sakal, a peer support worker at the centre says, “We’re offering them a connection back to the community. I’ve had experience with mental illness and I can tell you that it can be very challenging to connect to the community.”

One of the ways Novak made his connection back to a healthier life was through a writer’s workshop — a partnership between L.E.A.R.N and the Toronto Writers’ Collective.

“Expressing myself is my way of coping and in many ways, getting out of the hole I dug myself,” says Novak. “I’m doing more than I expected I would. I’m living the life that I dreamt of when I was in the midst of my addiction.”

Novak will be recognized for his achievements Wednesday at the Transforming Lives Awards presented by CAMH.