Faces of Mental Illness 2012
This post is also available in: French
Face-to-Face with Dustin Garron
Dustin Garron is a student at Carleton University and the founder of The Mental Health Project for Youth from Renfrew, Ontario. Having just celebrated his eighteenth birthday, Dustin is no stranger to the often turbulent nature of the adolescent years and was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, depression, and borderline personality disorder at a young age. After six failed suicide attempts, his seventh attempt resulted in a coma and being placed on life support for four days. Dustin’s miraculous recovery inspired him to seek help, and it was during his stay at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario that Dustin came up with the idea for The Mental Health Project for Youth. The Mental Health Project for Youth is a not-for-profit organization run by youth, for youth, and offers peer support and services to residents aged 12-21. Dustin hopes to empower young Canadians with his courageous story and let them know they are not alone. Dustin embodies the strength of youth and serves as a shining example of how with appropriate treatment, recovery from mental illness is possible.
For Dustin, Recovery is Possible.
Face-to-Face with Sandra Yuen MacKay
Sandra Yuen MacKay is a Canadian-born Chinese artist, author, and public speaker living in Vancouver, British Columbia. At fourteen, she began experiencing delusions, hallucinations, and severe paranoia. Despite her current diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, Sandra earned a Fine Arts diploma, an Art History degree, and has shared her story with thousands of Canadians in an effort to offer hope to others living with mental illness. She exhibits her vivid paintings with The Art Studios in Vancouver and published My Schizophrenic Life: The Road to Recovery from Mental Illness, an inspiring memoir which has received international acclaim. Sandra was also the proud recipient of the Coast Mental Health 2012 Courage to Come Back Award in the mental health category. She credits meta-cognitive therapy, her loving husband of eighteen years, a strong personal support system, and self-determination for her success. Sandra wants others living with mental illness to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel: you just have to reach out for help to find it.
For Sandra, Recovery is Possible.
Face-to-Face with Laurie Pinard
Laurie Pinard is an exercise enthusiast and running instructor living in Ottawa, Ontario. Throughout young adulthood, Laurie struggled to understand the dramatic highs and lows of her emotions, and it was not until her early forties that she received the correct diagnosis of bipolar disorder. After hitting rock bottom, resulting in the loss of her career and all her possessions, Laurie decided to fight for her life. She sought help in the form of psychiatry, nutritional supplements, mental health courses, and exercise. Through this multifaceted support system, Laurie found a strength and resolve she never knew she had. It was a newfound sense of hope that pushed Laurie to finally share her story with the world in 2011. Her bravery was met with an outpouring of support and she hopes to encourage others to take ownership of their illness and seek the help they need. Laurie represents self-determination and resiliency, and plans to become a mental health counsellor to help others living with mental illness discover their own strengths to create a healthy and fulfilling life.
For Laurie, Recovery is Possible.
Face-to-Face with Chantal Poitras
Chantal Poitras works for the tourism industry and has recently joined Partners for Mental Health as a volunteer. She lives in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Despite a blissfully happy childhood, in 2005, Chantal’s life took a turn for the worst when the emergence of unpredictable and erratic behavior changed her life forever. Scared and confused, Chantal struggled to find professional help in her native French language in a predominately Anglophone city. After reaching out to her local Canadian Mental Health Association, Chantal finally found the help she needed when she received her correct diagnosis of borderline personality disorder. She has been on a path to recovery ever since. Today, Chantal shares her story through her personal blog in the hopes of letting others know they are not alone and that they too can lead a healthy and productive life. Her inspirational story serves as an important reminder of the indiscriminate nature of mental illness and the importance of an official diagnosis and appropriate treatment for long-term recovery.
For Chantal, Recovery is Possible.
Face-to-Face with Alicia Raimundo
Alicia Raimundo is public speaker and youth mental health advocate from Pickering, Ontario. Having struggled with depression and anxiety since childhood, Alicia explains her story as a metaphorical journey from one kind of superhero to another. Like Spiderman, Alicia felt she had to fight in the dark and mask her true identity. Eventually, tired of hiding, Alicia decided to put a face on mental illness and has since found her voice, transforming into something of an Ironman! Today, Alicia is an active mental health advocate, speaking at Universities across Canada to encourage young Canadians to remove the mask and embrace their own inner superhero. She also works closely with Mindyourmind, the University of Waterloo, and countless other organizations working to end the stigma associated with mental illness. Alicia insists the key to reaching young Canadians is by talking with them, instead of for them, and credits her active involvement in the mental health community as fundamental to her recovery.
For Alicia, Recovery is Possible.