After losing his father to suicide when he was seven and his mother to cancer at 13, Mischa’s childhood was marked by grief and trauma.
“When my mum passed away, that’s when my whole journey started with drugs.”
Mischa moved in with his grandmother, who lived in an unstable environment. An aggressive neighbour made his home life stressful – from constant banging on the roof to having the police called on him.
He struggled to cope with his experiences.
“I was angry. Angry at the world. And I didn’t know how to feel about the whole situation, so I started acting out.”
“I was only really going to school to smoke weed with my mates and go to class for a bit,” he adds.
“I started drinking a lot more when I was 14. I think I missed the whole of Term 4 that year because I just didn’t want to go.”
After being diagnosed with complex PTSD, depression, anxiety and ADHD, Mischa struggled with his use alcohol and other drugs – which was also fuelled by an unhealthy relationship with a girlfriend he had at the time.
He continued to spiral further – getting into fights and altercations – and he didn’t have a place to live that felt safe.
“I was linked up with Youth Off The Streets around that time – but I didn’t want anything to do with it.
“I didn’t want to go to a refuge. I was staying with my nan sometimes – going back and forth between a mate’s place and my nan’s place.”
After breaking off the relationship with his girlfriend, things finally started looking up for Mischa.
“The start of last year was a good year,” he reflects.
“I got off the drugs – everything. Off all the prescriptions. I was just drinking occasionally with my mates but not abusing it.”
Mischa turned to music – a significant comfort in his life – and started building his music career.
“Music always had a big influence on me. It was my thing to escape.”
He started sharing his music, getting gigs from several connections, and was the opening act for one of his favourite rappers.
“It was all going well until we went into lockdown,” he says.
“My nan got really sick. She got some type of leukaemia.”
It was during this tough time that he briefly started using drugs again.
But when a friend ended up in a coma for three weeks due to an overdose, Mischa got the wake-up call he needed to overcome his substance misuse.
But breaking the cycle of problematic drug use is not easy.
While trying to rebuild his life and music career, Mischa experienced an intense seizure – a drug withdrawal symptom – while filming a music video. He ended up in the same hospital where his grandmother was receiving treatment for her cancer.
Dazed and confused, Mischa was eventually released, only to receive a phone call the next day – his grandmother had passed away.
While struck with grief at the loss of another family member, Mischa was asked to clear out his grandmother’s apartment by the community housing provider.
With nowhere left to turn, he contacted Youth Off The Streets.
“My mate connected me to another mate who got me onto my current caseworker. I spoke to him and said I needed help with accommodation.”
What he received was much more than a place to stay. After entering one of Youth Off The Streets’ refuges, Mischa started to learn more about himself and others.
“I can now socialise with other young people and the workers. I thought I was really anxious, and I didn’t know how to talk to people.”
“The support I received helped me increase my confidence.”
“I started to learn more, and now I’m on track to study to be a youth worker.”
Mischa is also choosing to use his passion for music to make a real difference.
“When I was 14, I started to write my own deep songs – like talking about real stuff and what’s happened in my life. But I never shared it.”
“In the past two years, I’ve started to take it more seriously and understand that I have power – a power in my voice.”
Mischa wants to use his story to inspire to other young people.
“Music is the one thing that got me through everything that I was going through,” he continues.
“If I can be like that rapper that was there for a kid like me, and help any other kid with my music, that’s all I want to do.”
“I want to help kids who are going through something rough. I don’t care about money. I don’t care about shows. I just want to help.”
Mischa is looking to his future with hope.
“I want to do a lot better for myself so I can inspire people.”
Check out Mischa’s inspiring music and subscribe to his YouTube channel here.