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A Story from Jes

For over 15 years, I have experienced how mental illness in the form of anxiety, obsessions, compulsions, mania and depression can wreak havoc on my family.  My two children were diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and my daughter, also, has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

My children have had to deal with the same problems as everyone else – and more, as the strain of mental illness has taken its toll.  Initially, I watched helplessly as their lives spun out of control.  There was a loss of self-esteem, confusion, anger and shame, due to the stigma attached to mental illness.  Our family struggled with denial, anger, guilt, frustration and sadness.  We have been challenged by hospitalizations, police interventions, medication changes, side effects, extreme mood swings, interruptions in schooling, and job losses directly related to mental illness.  Many emotions and behaviours have been distorted by these illnesses.  Many plans, hopes and dreams have been dashed and expectations have had to be continually reset.

Throughout it all, I have been in awe of my children’s determination, endurance and courage.  I believe in their strength and potential to live happy, productive lives, contributing to society in meaningful ways.

We have reached out to family doctors, psychiatrists, counsellors, support groups and mental health organizations.  Due to city budget restraints, we have been unable to obtain continuing assistance in the city in which we live, but we are fortunate to access help by travelling to another city.  We are very thankful for the ongoing treatment we are receiving and for the continuing research into these illnesses.

There are misconceptions about mental illness and what is not understood is often feared and judged.  My children have found it necessary to try to hide their health issues, in an attempt to escape the stigma.  If only the energy used to cover up symptoms from peers and others, could be used for recovery!

It is our hope that by sharing  with others what we have learned, by improving understanding of mental health issues and by eliminating judgment and stigma, we will be able to advance recovery.  My family and I are proud to support The Ride For Mental Health and we salute the growing awareness of mental health issues.

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