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Matthew Dickson in Saint John on Aug. 17, 2023. Image: Brad Perry

New film chronicles N.B. man’s bike ride across Canada

By Brad Perry May 13, 2024 | 5:17 AM

A New Brunswick man became the first person with schizophrenia to bike across Canada last year.

Now, Matthew Dickson of Saint Andrews has released a new movie about his experience.

Dickson was diagnosed with schizophrenia nearly three decades ago at the age of 22.

Two years earlier, before his diagnosis, he cycled across the country as part of Tour du Canada.

“I improved every single week over 27 years, and in 2021, my symptoms just stopped. So the last few years have been pretty good for me,” Dickson said in an interview.

“It felt so good to get that out of my system, to do that trip again, after so many years of just being just run by the disease and not being able to do what I wanted and being in a lot of pain too and mental anguish.”

RELATED: N.B. man cycling to raise awareness about schizophrenia

Along the way, he raised thousands of dollars for schizophrenia societies across Canada and for the Mind Aid non-profits to help people with mental illness in developing countries.

But the trip was more than just about raising money. Dickson also wanted to help reduce the stigma that still exists surrounding schizophrenia.

“For the first time in my life, I had to talk to complete strangers about schizophrenia. I was forcing myself to do that,” he said.

“Not one single person across Canada gave me a hard time about schizophrenia.”

Along the way, Dickson documented his journey through posts and videos he shared on his Facebook page.

Dickson had always planned to write a book about the trip — which he is still in the process of doing — but was also encouraged to make a movie.

“We’re very happy with the film. We’ve shown it a number of times live locally here in Charlotte County. And I went up to Fredericton to show it and Sussex,” he said.

‘Recovery Is Possible’ is the name of the movie and it is available to rent for $7 through YouTube.

Dickson also received support from people across the country to help him complete his journey.

“I still get emotional when I think about the people who donated to allow me to do that. I was just over the moon about that,” he said.

As for what is next for Dickson, he is looking to help organize some concerts to help raise money.

He also has a message for those who are dealing with a mental health battle of their own.

“Hang in there. There are armies of people, thousands and thousands of people go to work every day around the world trying to find treatments and cures for us,” said Dickson.

“It’s possible to recover. It’s possible for new things to be discovered. You’re a wonderful person, you’re valuable, and I would love to have you here for another day.”

You can hear our full interview with Matthew Dickson below: