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.
I am exceptionally proud of our upcoming Administrative Professionals Conference at Ontario Shores on Friday, April 27.
This started off as an idea to create an opportunity for administrative professionals to visit our beautiful facility for a day of learning and professional development. It has become a full day of education and knowledge sharing that is now just weeks away from becoming a reality.
Along with the educational opportunities this conference is sure to provide, I’m excited for the chance to share with my colleagues across various sectors in Durham Region, and beyond, a sample of the exciting work being done at Ontario Shores each and every day.
Ontario Shores has lost a true friend and champion this weekend.
When the sad news came Saturday of the passing of Roger Anderson, who had been battling bravely against cancer, I found myself reflecting on our time together, his accomplishments and the inevitable void whenever you lose a champion.
Roger had the reputation of being gruff and abrasive but what you quickly learned was that he was an unapologetic champion for those things he held dear to his heart.