It’s easy to get dissuaded in life, especially when everything around you seems to be falling apart. Going through a struggle in any form is inevitable. While it may test every ounce of patience you have and every bit of fight you got in you, there’s always a purpose behind all hardships one faces. But not giving up even when things seem bleak and inspiring and giving people hope that things will get better is extraordinary.
Mike Shoreman is a motivational speaker, author, speaks and writes on mental health and the power of mindset. Before he was affected, he was a professional paddleboarder, had a thriving business, and enjoyed life to the fullest. He was as happy as any person could be. It was all going well till he was diagnosed with a life-altering condition. Due to the reactivation of the chickenpox virus, he lost his sense of balance. He was diagnosed with Ramsay Hunt syndrome. After losing his sense of balance, he lost hope for a while. The doctors told him he wouldn’t be able to do many things- he wouldn’t be able to walk, stand, and most certainly, never be able to paddleboard.
There were times when he felt tested and agitated, but by simply adopting positive thinking and mind-shifting (and loads of physiotherapy), he rewired his brain. To his delight, he went on to do all the things the doctors said he’d never be able to do. He got out of his comfort zone, and with the Canadian Safe Boating Council, he performed safety demonstrations and interviews with the media. Though he trained people in paddleboarding, it was the first time he’d spoken publicly.
He wasn’t comfortable going out in public as he needed a cane to walk, and he wore an eyepatch, people noticed him, and there were comments. Although it was demoralizing, he kept a positive attitude through it all. He participated in the speaker slam and was so driven to tell a story, (he practiced his speech 150 times!) to inspire and motivate the people who were struggling. He wanted to make them see that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. His talk on mental health and his struggle was nothing short of inspirational and touching. He received thunderous applause for his talk.
As a person who was building his life back again, one step at a time, he found conviction and courage through each ‘yes’ he said. Getting help was his first yes, going back to the paddleboard was his second yes, and each affirmation led to the other. It’s not easy to make that leap of faith, but if you only open up yourself to seeking help, it empowers you in a million ways. Agreeing to get help, conquering his fears, and having a resilient attitude made him who he is today. He is a mental health advocate fighting to break stigmas because talking about mental health is liberating. He is also an ambassador for many non-profit organizations. He won the 2020 SUP MAN of the Year Award and the International People’s Choice Paddleboarder of the Year Award.
He emphasizes the need for having a positive mindset, for being grateful for the little things in life, and for having goals. Goals aren’t meant to fill any voids a person may have. Don’t pursue an object relentlessly. Accomplishing those objectives must help you become a better individual.
Mike wrote a book, Diaries of The Unbalanced Paddleboarder: Crash and RISE: From Victim to Thriving Survivor
In his book, he talks about the time he visited India, and during his stay in Varanasi, he saw the Ganges flooded with lotus lit with diyas (small light lamps) on top of them. He envisioned a world where people enjoyed being in the water. They weren’t afraid to fall or splash. That’s when he knew he’d have a paddleboarding business. He talks about his struggles after his diagnosis and the relevance of mental health as well.
His story is nothing short of extraordinary that gives solace even to the most hopeless person. There’s a lot of struggle, and it’s an intense journey. His hardships go on to show that it’s possible to achieve a greater sense of purpose, connected with more people who went through the same thing, believe that things get better, and be happy.
The pandemic has been tough on everyone. So we must be kinder to each other.
Like Mike, each of us at PVM believes that it is okay to acknowledge you’re not okay, and it is more than alright to ask for help. The world needs kindness. We can’t know the intensity of someone’s struggles just by looking at them, but we can offer to be good friends and understanding people. Express gratitude for the little things in life, say yes to the things that will make you a better person, live life to the fullest, get help if you need it because you’re not alone, and your struggles will only elevate you further in life. Don’t be afraid and have faith.
Written by Devanshee Sharma