ROB ENGELQUIST // this is life.

So here’s the thing, I’ve been known to be all about the ladies. Because let’s face it, we ROCK! lol. Between my beauty & boudoir lines the focus has been on creating an empowering experience for any and every woman. That was until Robbie. 

Rob reached out to me for a headshot and I was glad to do it thinking we’d get a few simple & classic images. I’d say we got more than that. He is the inspiration for me starting my blog series: this is life. So much of my work features women and I love this opportunity to include the gentlemen. It means a lot to start it with Robbie because I know he has such an important story to share. 

I’ve know Rob since high school where he was well-known, the life of the party and an avid hockey player. Never did I realize at that time what was going on in the inside. Now at 33 everything he has been through has brought him to be the phenomenal writer, rapper, stand-up comedian & aspiring actor we know now. With all these achievements under his belt and many future dreams it may be surprising to learn he doesn't even like leaving his own house. Rob has schizophrenia. Diagnosed at age 18 and on a journey ever since. 

“As a child I heard strange and distorted voices inside and outside of my head, I also suffered from vivid hallucinations that left me feeling possessed and extremely scared.”

His struggles began much before the age of 18, with the voices beginning as early as 3 years old. As it progressed so did his anger and rebellion and his parents were doing everything possible they could to help. He turned to drugs and alcohol and lost all respect for authority which eventually got him expelled from school. It got the point of being so overwhelming and suicidal he was admitted into RCH Psych ward and later spent 3 months in Riverview Hospital.

“The mental pain that I endured in the day followed me into my dreams, the demonic screaming that I heard when I was awake stayed with me when I fell asleep”

 

So this is life, for Robbie.

 

Even though he was given the diagnosis of schizo affective disorder, he’d like you to know that's not who he is, rather something he has. I have always admired his willingness to share about his struggles and the incredibly powerful things he has done to help spread awareness. At 21 he became a comedian in a group called ‘Stand up for Mental Health’ and did over 200 shows in a span of 8 years. After that he was able to record some of his songs on a few albums and loves to spend his day writing and listening to vinyl records. He now teaches police officers at the justice institute about mental illness, and his purpose in life is to spread the love this world so desperately needs. 

Although I already knew much of this story, I learned many new things (read the full interview here). The most exciting was to hear about the autobiography he has been writing. Living with a mental illness can come with some stigmas, and we need to change that. When I see Robbie all I see is a talented individual who has the most unconditional love for his family & friends. He is so great with our kids, and excited to be an Uncle himself soon…and I can’t forget - an unreal cook! That’s his passion and joy and he cooks every single day.

If you, or someone you know is struggling, and ever need to reach out you can contact Robbie on Facebook or email: robakamantis@gmail.com. He says getting help can be trying at times, but don’t ever give up. It’s important to express yourself to someone you trust. 

I’ve been passionate about every woman deserving beautiful portraits for years. During my sessions we have fun and my goal is to have you leave feeling uplifted and empowered. When Robbie saw his images I was blown away to hear “wow, I have never seen myself this way”. In that moment I realized every PERSON deserves amazing portraits of themselves. 

Do you have a story to share and a desire to be photographed? 

Reach out to me at: hello@kristypowers.ca