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My story: Phil Kou

My story begins in my formative years, when I was the victim of flagrant child abuse in a dysfunctional family.
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Coming from a culture within which physical and emotional punishment for trivial mistakes was commonplace, I never had the opportunity to express who I was or grow freely. I later learned from such notable medical professionals as Dr. Gabor Mate​, that these adverse childhood experiences contributed to my mental illness and addiction.

"Sometimes, it’s just about getting your foot in the door before you can begin healing."

As I reached my twenties, I was diagnosed with schizophrenia — a psychiatric condition that proved to be disruptive both at work and in my home life. After the relationship with my significant other ended, I was unable to manage my feelings, leading me to use illicit substances to cope. For a long time thereafter, I became deeply entrenched in my own sheltered world and life became unbearable. I was always broke, my relationships with my family and friends waned, and I began to isolate from everyone close to my heart. Reaching rock-bottom, I finally came to a moment of clarity: I needed help with my addiction and my mental and emotional health.

My recovery journey started at Burnaby Centre for Mental Health and Addiction. Like all journeys, it took enormous courage to take the first steps towards sobriety. For myself, I was in fear of being powerless and losing control over my life as well as facing and accepting who I truly was. Sometimes, it’s just about getting your foot in the door before you can begin healing. And, as I have learned variously, don’t give up before the miracle happens.

After completing the program at the Burnaby Centre, my health care team and I decided that it would be best for me to continue my rehabilitation at Coast Mental Health, in their Rehabilitation and Recovery Program​. The idea here was to prepare me for a smoother transition back to independent living and into mainstream society. Just having a little trust in people and in the process can sometimes go a long way.

"With this attitude of gratitude, I now possess a sense of hope and believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel."

Today, I still struggle with my mental health and addiction issues. I sometimes feel alone, even when I am with others who share the same issues. However, my attitude has changed. I no longer take for granted the many “little” gifts I have in my life: a roof over my head, food in my belly, and a warm bed to sleep in. With this attitude of gratitude, I now possess a sense of hope and believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Someone once asked me what words of wisdom I would impart on those who have issues like mine. I have three: Don’t give up!



 
 
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