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Carol's Story

For a long time the possibility of mental illness never crossed our minds. The dreaded realization just sort of crept up on us.

As Mel and I embarked on the parenthood journey Lindsay was our template. The oldest of four, she was first to be cradled in trembling, proud arms, first to put her tiny hand in ours and walk, first to start school. We relied on the experiences we gained with Lindsay as our other children came along. As she grew and spread her wings we did too.

Our experiences with the other kids pretty much followed the template until high school when things began to change with Lindsay. We had heard all the usual stories about teenage angst and the rebellious teen years. So when we noticed Lindsay’s behaviours change we weren’t too worried. Her grades began to slip, she withdrew from the family, she slept a lot. It’s natural we thought; a normal rite of passage. She seemed to swing from angry and irritable moods to depression and back. There were many stormy periods in our family as we struggled to deal with the turbulence. Life at home became stressful and unpredictable for everyone and it spilled into other parts of our lives as well. It began to dawn on us that this was beyond the normal experience and we faced the scary realization that Lindsay was ill. By this time Lindsay knew she needed help too. She agreed to see a counselor who immediately advised us to see our family doctor. From that point on we became engaged in the ongoing quest to find appropriate treatment and help for Lindsay and something that she could accept and adhere to.

We have felt overwhelmed by the effects of mental illness on our daughter and our family. We have felt guilt as parents thinking that somehow bad parenting was to blame. We have felt helpless as we search for ways to help. We are proud of our daughter and her valiant struggle against the illness, her determination to be well.

In looking back over the years the telltale signs were there but mental illness was not something that readily came to mind. Had we known about the signs and symptoms of mental illness when they began to appear we may have been able to intervene sooner. It is vitally important for everyone to be aware of mental illness as early treatment results in more positive outcomes.

And that brings me to the whole point behind The Ride for Mental Health. Our goal, plain and simple, is to raise awareness about mental illness. In sharing our experiences we hope it will encourage others to share their stories too. Our hope is that the stories and information on the website will give you the opportunity to reach a higher level of understanding and acceptance of mental illness. It’s time to change, so open the doors; let’s take mental illness out of the shadows and into the light. Awareness Works.

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