The goals of Humain Avant Tout (human above all) are to reduce the taboos attached to mental health, to break their isolation, to provide hope and motivate people to ask for help.
The organization publicizes the testimonies of people who have experienced or who are experiencing psychological difficulties, whether they have been diagnosed or not.
Here is Ariel’s story:
My parents separated when I was nine years old. It was a difficult separation. I think that’s what drove me to being a delinquent.
At age 13, I started committing crimes and consuming drugs and alcohol. I wasn’t the sort to express my emotions, so I ended up in trouble because of it. I dropped out of school in secondary 3. I spent a lot of time with a bad crowd.
Eventually, youth protection, the DPJ, got involved. I ended up in a youth home. It was really hell. I remember crying every night. All I wanted was to get out of there.
I got a three-year placement order. At the time, I escaped and went on the lam for a month. I ended up attending five different high schools. I suffered a lot of setbacks during my teenage years. It took me a while before I realized that I’d suffered abandonment several times during my life…
At age 16, I was granted the right to go live with my sister, who agreed to take me under her wing. That changed everything. I seized the opportunity. I took control over my own life and stopped consuming dope and booze. I started to focus on school… I dreamed of becoming a psychologist.
My sister became my best friend, my second mother. She taught me some basic things like cooking, doing the laundry, but also how to manage my relationships. She was always there to listen to me, to support me and to help me with my studies. It was tough for me to reapprorpiate my past… as if there were a present Ariel and a past Ariel.
Now I believe in myself, because, among other reasons, I’ve talked everything out in therapy.
When I was a teen, they told me I’d never finish high school and that what awaited me in life was a future out on the street or in prostitution.
Two years ago I was accepted in a doctorate program in psychology, and I’ve just finished my second year. I’m proud of myself because it’s not easy to get this far. It takes a lot of effort.
I think that my past experiences make me a more empathetic psychologist. I can better understand other people’s suffering.