Most of us lead busy lives, often made more stressful by a chronic health condition such as a mental illness, either personally or as a caregiver (or both). In the hustle and bustle of a typical day, when we may grab food only for the purpose of filling our growling bellies, it's easy to forget about all the many things that food can do for you.
Did you know that your brain consumes a whopping 420 calories per day, making up about 20-25 per cent of your total energy needs, while your other essential organs consume another 50-60 per cent of your energy in a day? In addition to energy (calories), all of these important functions also require protein for ongoing repair and maintenance of all our tissues from skin to bones, and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) for optimal functioning of all our systems.
Each day I am amazed by the difference Ontario Shores makes in the lives of people living with mental illness.
Our commitment to recovery is evident in everything we do. The collective passion to provide the best possible care for patients and their families is what sets this organization apart.
I’m proud to be a part of a culture that refuses to rest on its laurels. The focus is always on excellence and on how we can be better for the people who need us most.
Sharing my story for the first time was difficult.
It was back in 2014 and I was unsure how my openness and honesty was going to be received by my hometown, my family and the mental health community.
The reaction, overwhelmingly, has been positive. The personal messages, phone calls and pats on the back are now part of the experience. I cherish seeing others inspired by what my family and I have been through.
There have also been some moments where I have cringed and other times where I wished I hadn’t read the comments others have posted on social media.
But I have learned those moments also have great value. For some, my story makes them uncomfortable. That, too, is fine. Delivering the message of hope and recovery even when it may not be welcomed is how change is going to happen. It’s how we, as advocates for mental health, will shift perspectives and open minds.
Over the last year I have had an even greater opportunity to share my story and reach new audiences.
Just under a year ago I was named as one of five people to participate in the Faces of Mental Illness campaign by the Canadian Alliance of Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH).
Including me in the Faces campaign was a bold move by CAMIMH.
There remains a great deal of stigma surrounding mental illness. There is even more stigma facing an illness like mine. People struggle to understand schizophrenia and how a tragedy can be the starting line for recovery.
And I get that.
I loved my grandmother.
She remains a huge part of my life as her memory fuels this new chapter in my life.