B.C. entrepreneur is on a mission to break the stigma around mental health
VANCOUVER -- His nickname is Tall Paul. At 6’7”, the 35-year-old towers over most people.
“I remember in grade 9 a couple of guys were catching up to me and that summer I grew 6 inches, so I’ve always been the Tall Paul,” said Paul Marlow with a chuckle.
Growing up, Marlow was a gifted athlete. Any sport he played, he excelled at it.
The Toronto Blue Jays drafted him because of his pitching ability, putting him well on his way to the big leagues.
“I was very excited,” he said. “I was a late pick so I didn’t get a phone call.”
He opted to go to Louisiana and become a two-sport collegiate athlete in baseball and basketball. By the end of school, he realized his dream of becoming a professional athlete was over.
“The four years of baseball I didn’t enjoy that much,” Marlow told CTV News Vancouver. “I did it because I had nothing else I could do and I didn’t know where else to go. I didn’t want to put shame on my family.”
“I didn’t have the knowledge or depth aptitude to go and get to that next level where I needed to get to,” he said.
So Marlow returned home, where his dad – who was his biggest fan – was now facing his own battle.
“It changed who he was,” Marlow said of his father Bill’s Parkinson’s diagnosis. “He would walk with a tilt he had a hard time standing up.” said Marlow.
Bill Marlow had been a pillar of strength in the family, his son said.
“The hardest part of it (is) as the Parkinson’s kicks in, you know it will get worse and worse.” Marlow said.
When his father got cancer and died in 2018, Marlow slipped into depression.
“It lasted for 6, 7 months,” he told CTV News. “I really didn’t want to accept those emotions that were going to come to me.”
“It’s a dark place. I’m grateful I never thought of ending it,” Marlow added.
Searching for help, Marlow discovered a help line right in front of him: social media.
“I first opened up online, social media, that way you don’t have to look people in the eyes,” he said.
Connecting online with people who had similar mental health issues formed a community for Marlow. He has now launched a home business called Never Alone, which invites people to connect with each other and share their mental health journeys. He is also selling hoodies online, with the money raised going back into the business.
“Don’t be afraid of going to therapy,” he said with a smile. “It is fine, it is cool, it really does help, and to be honest with you, half the time you just talk to yourself.”
He now follows a daily routine of positive energy that has helped him with day-to-day life. With no quit in his game and staying in great shape, he’s about to challenge himself once again in the sport of rowing.
“This rowing journey is my second chance and I’m looking to make the most out of it,” he said. “Inspire myself and inspire others … be another beacon for people to look up to and reach out to.”