Sunday, August 21, 2011


 Artist - Isha Brown

I know our past shapes who we are in the present, and we do not have to become victims of what has happened to us. However we all at some point, need help, we need to reach out for it and we also, need help to be offered to us. We live in difficult troubled times to say the least. It is heartening to learn of others making the real effort to make a difference in the world and in the lives of others, leading through example. I heard one such story this morning, that brought me back to my own experience in 1979-80 that forever changed me and my life.

I fell in love with the man I married, who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia that was drug induced at the early age of 16 and he was also a brittle diabetic, which is uncontrollable diabetes.

I had been studying Mime in Toronto when I met Bill, in the Young Street Mission, just around the corner from the Women's Christian Temperance Union, where I was living, not because I didn't smoke or drink, I was in fact trying to live a Christian life, but mainly I was living there because it was close to school and comparatively cheap. 

It was for me at least, love at first sight I think. We began dating in January 1980, moved in together in April, married in June and by September he was dead. I mention this experience in my life because I believe it is very relevant to the documentary I heard this morning, for the second time on CBC Radio, Maritime Magazine

The level of medical help my husband received in Ontario was very good compared to what was available in the Maritimes, where I am from and where we moved to after we were married. Regardless  of where we were, it was not enough to save his life, when is came to his mental illness.

This is a story of hope, and makes me feel things are just beginning to slowly change for those marginalized, stigmatized, outcast, incarcerated, institutionalized, afflicted with mental illness, disease, poverty, and homelessness.  

It is appalling to me that such situations exists, in a country full of resources and wealth only available to a certain few, who control the purse strings many of who are in political power, or in the back pockets of politicians. I know it is not that simple, and that these issues are systemic and cultural, and there are no cut and dried answers. However, I do believe in the power of the individual, and that it can be a catalyst for empowering change, like none other, especially when we can reclaim or claim our own individual power. Many of us need a hand up to do this, and those of us that are in a position to give a hand up to others, need to do so.

After hearing this program on two occasions, I felt had to write to say how happy I was to hear of this project and certainly do hope and pray that it continues to be successful. I know personally of Claudette Bradshaw, who is behind this project, her commitment and those like her who are actively helping others. My hope is that the powers that be i.e. government, red tape, and interference, etc., will not hamper and restrict this vital work and effort.

As a front line Youth Care Worker for so many years, I know all too well how troubled kids, youth at risk and young offenders fall between the cracks, because of a system that fails abysmally to assist these kids and their families, only to become adults that are more often than not, in poverty, homeless, suffering from addiction, and with mental health issues, only to find themselves as adults incarcerated or living on the street, outcast, instead of receiving the help they are in desperate need of, in order to get on their feet.

I pray this program stays around long enough to see some real results to enable much needed change for those most in need, without the bureaucrats screwing it up some how! 

I subscribe to a blog called, Colony of Losers, which explores the issues surrounding mental illness especially in regard to it's stigma and the ignorance of those not understanding people suffering from it's affects, which ultimately affects us all directly or indirectly at some point. I hope you take a few minutes to visit the Colony of Losers, as it might just change or save your life or that of another's.


Indigene said...

There is still so much stigma attached to mental illness; even in the American Society where statistics show that maybe half the society is on antidepressants or want to be; there is still this hidden fear of mental illness! Thanks so much for sharing this.

Unknown said...

So very true Indigene,

Huge stigma around mental illness. In Canada there has been much more openness around the subject within the past few years because will one of Prime Minister's wives got on our National Public Radio, CBC at shared her story about her Bi-polar illness and there is more all the time. There is stigma about disease period. Thank you for reading and your comments Indigene.