Most of us feel the social pressure to convert our personal gnarled and warty lemons into sweet, tasty lemonade—a carefully crafted beverage made to nullify our mental health issues, human biology, genetics, and just plain bad luck. Or, more likely, it’s a frantic and random mix thrown together with little thought beyond getting through the day as best you can. Gulp it down fast—see what happens. Turning lemons into a palatable pitcher of lemonade can be a lifelong endeavor, but occasionally, something more significant and incredible happens: Lightning in a bottle is captured.
Kody Green was a typical young adult, starting out in life, honing interests, and pursuing college options. However, things went off the rails quickly. At 19, Kody was suddenly in the thick of some genuinely horrific developments—hyper-realistic hallucinations, substance addiction, then a car accident, drug-related charges, and finally, incarceration. Kody lived with increasingly severe symptoms for two years, even convincing himself that he had developed the superpower of mind reading. We’ve all had daydreams about harnessing this supernatural power; ask yourself if you would readily reject this extraordinary ability. The brain is skilled at creating and interpreting its own reality while heavily validating the paranoia, delusions, and hallucinations—all typical schizophrenic symptoms.
At 21, Kody finally received an official schizophrenic diagnosis. Addiction issues often exist in tandem with schizophrenia to create a self-destructive, self-propelling downward spiral. Kody knows about his luck—he’s the first to tell you how well he responds to treatment and about the relative ease with which they found a medication that works for him. His struggles cannot be separated from who he is, nor does he want or expect that. He describes himself as a recovered drug addict, reformed convict, and diagnosed schizophrenic, and these are his sources of power and wisdom.
Before the COVID contagion, Kody was enrolled in the Human Resources program at Western. He took advantage of the of the pandemic to take a hiatus from school to assess life goals and explore the possibilities within the realm of his experience and knowledge. Kody is a motivational speaker, social media star, mental health advocate, suicide prevention and peer support specialist—all are backed by his unshakable belief in second chances.
He has 1.2 million followers on TikTok, where he shares his deeply personal stories regarding mental health, drug addiction, incarceration, and the reliably viral genre “Schizophrenic Storytime.” His open and honest approach to talking about his mental health is transformational. The dialogue that happens and the information shared is helpful and a supportive community is the reward. He is also the founder and owner of One Opportunity Hiring, a nonprofit staffing agency created to help those with criminal records find jobs and enjoy another chance at a fulfilling life.
Kody has made himself an impressive toolkit to offer support and help people in various ways. This fall, he will be back at Western to finish his HR degree—a solid, workable plan that speaks heavily to his strengths.
Kody Green’s success story is inspirational in an unusual way. Yes, he’s overcome massive hardships and obstacles: he’s created a life in which he can be entirely himself, which is no small feat. In fact, for this to work for him, he must be truthful and unabashedly himself; that’s the deal. The key for Kody is creative and earnest communication based on honesty and a healthy respect for all the issues that make him essentially interesting and sublimely enjoyable, while instilling in him a depth of understanding our human foibles—we all have them. People trust him; he affords them a deep sense of belonging and kinship, which is surprisingly powerful. Socrates’ classic mental health tip is rooted in a simple philosophy, know thyself. Others take issue with this by pointing out that categorizing oneself is limiting. Think of the motivated caterpillar who strives to uncover their personal truth only to stifle future growth and never become a butterfly—that’s a tragedy. Kody figured out the sweet spot in life: know yourself, be yourself, but embrace change along the journey. Life is change.