I once stood tall, determined and confi dent in every way. I planned to fi nd a beautiful wife, a happy home and a fulfi lling job, accompanied by fi nancial freedom. In the blink of an eye, I got none of it. Instead, I was delivered an insurmountable blow that knocked me awry, destroying my stability, my desire and my ambition.
While others climbed the hill to success, I could only watch in awe and amazement as family, friends and colleagues accomplished the very things that, at one time, I hoped I could achieve. An inch from death, I mustered every bit of faith, strength and courage to get back on my feet.
About the Author
Chris Nihmey was born in Ottawa, Canada in 1973. He attended Holy Family Catholic Elementary, and continued at St. Patrick’s High School, graduating in 1992. He then attended The University of Western Ontario in London, Canada, from 1992 to 1997, and received a Bachelor Degree in Kinesiology and Psychology, graduating with Honours, and on the Dean’s List. He followed with a Bachelor of Education at the University of Ottawa.
In 1998, excited to begin his teaching career, he was hired on a permanent basis to teach grade 4 with the Ottawa-Carleton Catholic School Board. He taught for two years before succumbing to his various illnesses. He resigned from permanent teaching and began substitute teaching, which he continues to do full-time to this day. This was a painful decision preventing him from moving forward in his life, which left him in professional and personal limbo.
Alongside occasional teaching, Chris co-authored two children’s novels in a series titled A Quarter Past Three, the story of a boy and girl who are lost in time. Their adventures take them to many different time periods, where the reader learns what it was like to live in that historical period. To make it home, they must find magical doors which appear at exactly “a quarter past three”; missing a door on any trip, would leave them lost in time forever.
These books were written in a particularly difficult and trying time, when Chris was battling three terrible disorders that nearly ended his life. At the same time, they proved to be a blessing, because they served as a convenient alibi for having to leave permanent teaching. This also allowed Chris to avoid the negative effects of stigma, while battling his debilitating mental illnesses. He would not give up.
On Boxing Day, 2005, in the midst of his mental storm, Chris began the brainstorming for his memoir Two Sides To The Story: Living A Lie. It started with a few ideas and slowly, from 2006 to 2010, the story came into fruition. Alongside therapy, medications, faith, and much hard work, the writing of his story became one of the driving forces in his healing, in his quest to gain a new life, a stable life. Today, while progressing towards healing, Chris continues to substitute teach full-time, while writing stories geared towards children, teenagers and adults, in a variety of genres. He plans to continue this writing journey, reaching out to those in need and giving them hope and purpose in their lives. At the same time, he aims to further educate society on mental illness and the dangerous effects that stigma has on both sufferers and their families.
I watched a little girl today while having a coffee at a Tim Hortons donut shop. She really was an image of peace and serenity, no more than five, as she sat with her mom in front of me, eating a sparkled donut, the kind that most kids like to eat. Her mother mixed a hot chocolate with chocolate milk, so that her drink would be just as sweet, but not so hot. I watched her sitting there so attentive to her donut. I remembered a time when I needed to be told to wipe my mouth and not slurp my drink, when I had to be reminded to take my shoes off when entering the house. When going out at night felt like going on a week’s vacation. You were completely absorbed in every moment and nothing else mattered, not yesterday’s failed test, not tomorrow’s trip to the dentist, not the biggest of snowfalls. All that mattered was the moment you were in, and what you were sharing with the people you were sharing it with. Growing older, I’ve realized that life is not that simple, and I found out the hard way.
Life is weird that way. You know, I never felt at any time in my life that I had it all, that I had everything. But I can say this. Whatever I did have, it was taken away from me quickly, quietly and abruptly without notice or even the slightest bit of warning. God, we never saw it coming; but when it came, it came hard and it felt like it would never leave. It never did leave and will linger for a lifetime.
You never really know what you have until you lose it. And I did. I lost my life, as it was, never to be the same again.