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Our Contributors

Amanda Kavanagh
Sandra Yuen MacKay
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allinyourhead
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Clink Malarchuck
M.J. Neely
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Victoria Maxwell
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Janet Singer
Sarah Fader
Neil Moon
Fliss Baker
Joe The Sicilian

Explaining Mental Illness to Children

Children of all ages are naturally curious and constantly asking questions. We, as adults, need to be attentive and take the time to listen. The generation now, is exposed to the awareness of mental illness, more than previous generations.

It’s our responsibility to help educate our children about the world around them. Continue reading

Life Finally Changed

My life, like everyone else’s, had its ups and downs. My brother and I would take turns spending weekends with both grandmothers’; go to church, to the library, do some baking and play games. We had the best time with them. While at home, everyone would be quiet, doing their own thing. Usually during birthdays or holidays is where you’d find us happy, joking and enjoying our time together.

It wasn’t until years later, I discovered why we spent so much time away from our parents. My father had been diagnosed with manic depression during his teenage years and we didn’t know this until I was in high school. My father had a back injury at work when I was one years old and became addicted to the prescription medication for 15 years. As the years went by his anger and abuse had gotten worse, suicide attempts began; therefore, we were sent away on weekends and mom told us it was to protect us.

When I was old enough to date, it seemed like my father and I fought more and more, as I wanted to live my life and I was rebelling. The breaking point was when I was 28 years old and dating a guy 14 years older. We did the opposite to what my father wanted and continued seeing each other. Eventually we asked him for his permission to get married; he said no. We refused to stop seeing each other, my parents and I continuously fought over it until my father kicked me out of the house. With three garbage bags full of clothes, which is all I was allowed to take, I left, with no where to go. I spent the night at the daycare centre I worked at. My boyfriend and I did get married a year later.

I hadn’t spoken to my family in eight months; I received a call from my mother saying dad was sick in the hospital; cirrhosis of the liver, with two weeks to live. After all the hurt, painful words, abuse my father put on all of us, he was still my father and yes, I did love him dearly. I visited my father later that day and my father and I made amends. A week later I visited him for the last time, I walked in the room just as he passed away; I felt the last twitch while holding his hand. I’d like to think he was waiting for me to come see him one last time.

Years had passed, my daughter was born, and the true colours were coming out in our marriage. For 12 years, I lived with someone who was narcissistic, jealous, demanding and controlling; my mother always told me I had married my father. We eventually separated and a few years later, I met my current partner; who also lives with mental illness, anxiety, OCD and depression. I haven’t been diagnosed but I know I live with PTSD.
I always had this thought in my head,” When is this ever going to end?” It did, 40 years later!

Here we are, in 2017, and with everything I have experienced in my life, I became a mental health advocate. Based on my lived experiences, I have been able to help people all around the world who has lived with domestic abuse, addictions and mental illnesses. I volunteer with numerous mental health organizations and write articles for mental health blogs.

My life is full of contentment, love, family and friends and now am closer than ever to my mother and brother. I’m also in a relationship where we have everything in common, we support each other, have fun and we’re living life!

When I was younger, I never thought I would have a happy life. I always thought what I experienced as a child was normal. Now I know different.

Doug Smith – Interview for Bell Let’s Talk

doug smithdougDoug Smith is a Canadian retired former professional ice hockey player who played for the Los Angeles Kings, Buffalo Sabres, Edmonton Oilers, Vancouver Canucks and Pittsburgh Penguins over the course of his career.

At 18 years old, Doug was drafted 2nd overall into the NHL to play for the Los Angeles Kings as their youngest player ever. Continue reading

Ron Ellis – Interview for Bell Let’s Talk

Ellis_RonRon Ellis started out as a professional hockey player to speaker, now speaks about his personal experience with depression.

Ron Ellis is remembered for his career with the Toronto Maple Leafs and member of the Team Canada hockey team.

During his 15 years as a professional player, he assisted in bringing the Stanley Cup home for the Leafs in 1967 and won against the Russians with Team Canada in the World Hockey Summit Series in 1972. Continue reading

Mental Illness Portrayed in the Media

girl interruptedChances are the majority of knowledge of mental health comes from the media. Researchers have suggested that most portrayals in the media are stereotypical, negative and incorrect. Stigma towards mental health has been in the media as far back as the 1800’s; “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”; dissociative identity disorder, formerly called a split personality disorder or multiple personality disorder. Inaccurate portrayals of people with mental illness has created negative stereotypes in all types of media; internet, television and print material such as magazines and newspapers. Continue reading

Joanie Malarchuk – Interview

Joanie ClintJoanie Malarchuk is wife of former NHL hockey player Clint Malarchuk.

28 years ago the then 27-year-old ice hockey goaltender, of the Buffalo Sabres, suffered one of the most gruesome injuries ever seen in professional sport.

His throat cut by a stray skate, he survived thanks to his team’s trainer reaching into his neck to pinch shut the severed artery that would later need 300 stitches. Continue reading

How Do I Cope With This ?!

What do you do when a situation is the most positive of experiences, but your not equipped to deal with spot light or praise?
I’ve mentally beat myself up for so many years now that I don’t know any different.
I recently attended an awards ceremony where I was one of three nominees for an award that evening.

When I got the call I was happy, but not overly joyed, some friends and family said I should have been ‘overjoyed’ ‘ecstatic’ ‘over the moon’ etc.. but really, itwas just ‘OK’.
I put the phone down , told my fiancée who was very pleased and carried on with what I was doing. That was normal for me, don’t get to happy, don’t get too down… Try to stay level. If I get excited, I’ll panic if I get sad, I’ll think and panic. So my place has been in the middle which kind of makes me wonder: Am I boring? Am I really living? Or just getting by? Does my fiancée think these things bout me?! She has recently mentioned that I seem very grumpy and quiet .. Ohh Fuck!!! Not what you really want to hear, but accepted and I’m working on it. It really isn’t meant.
Anyway, I took my best mate to the awards evening as my fiancée was stuck at work. To explain a little, my mate is a positive person, he’s like a real life Peter Pan, he will never ever go a day without laughter! And will do his best to brighten up the darkest of situations, a good man and a dear friend.

So, a black tie event. I’ve never been to one of them ever, so my mate and I rocked up in navy and grey suits respectively ……… As we got to the entrance I could see a very large amount of eyeballs looking directly at us! Ohh shit! That’s when my mate said to me. ‘don’t worry pal, people do not like different. I’ve been to a few of these events and at the end of the day, if you were wearing a tracksuit, they’d still applaud, because they have not done what you have done, wise up and come on!’ That’s where the old ‘Sheep’ theory came into play. I smiled and headed straight to the bar.
I am not a big drinker, but needed something to take the edge off this feeling I still had, the clothes didn’t bother me. It was the thought of winning!! I was sweating, nervous, couldn’t think straight.I needed a bit of tranquillity.
So I downed about three pints of Guinness and a couple of shots in about half hour. That was crazy for me!! But still the anxiety was crippling me. By this time we were sat at our designated table and my mate could see straight through me. I really didn’t want to be there and as the awards gradually came to mine the intention of running out of the hotel became bigger!
My category. Videos were shown of each nominee before hand and the host spoke of what we had done etc… So I knew I had fifteen minutes and ordered another drink, that was gone in seconds. Still , not calm!! Ohh shit!! I have never felt an anxiety like this before. I wasn’t dying, a little palpitations but for obvious reasons so I was not bothered . It was an unknown anxiety, maybe unconfident, just didn’t feel I deserved to be there. I kept my head down and hoped I’d lose. Very odd ey???!!!
I won! What the f……!!!
My mate jumped up, grabbed hold of me kisses my head and said ‘now get up there, because you deserve it!’
I walked up to the stage and was shaking from head to toe! All I kept saying to myself was ‘don’t crack, don’t crack!!!’. I got up there, shook hands with everyone etc and raced back to my seat where people came over and congratulated me. It was only then that the alcohol had hit me…. And quietly got on with our evening, also calm knowing that I would be up for no more awards 🙂
Then the realisation of what was achieved made me stop and accept praise 🙂 we are all the same, no matter what we do in life, or the clothes we wear !!!

What is High-Functioning Depression?

How well do you know your friends, co-workers or even family? It would be surprising to know it doesn’t matter how well you know them, they may be hiding something from you. What you may see is a happy marriage, a great job, lots of friends. What you won’t see is the unhappiness, lack of energy, constant self-doubt and changes in appetite; a few symptoms of high-functioning depression. Continue reading

Addiction and Mental Illness

On September 12, 2016, I went to listen to former NHLer Clint Malarchuk speak for the World Suicide Prevention Day. He touched on his medication and drinking, how he mixed the two and how it affected his mental illness, himself, his family and his suicidal thoughts.

I do know, from personal experience from loved ones, how important it is NOT to mix alcohol and or drugs and certain medications when you live with a mental illness. Continue reading

The Impact of One Brave Night-CAMH

Imagine having the same thoughts in your head or seeing the same visions in your head, over and over again. Now imagine experiencing this when you’re supposed to be sleeping. This happens to many people who live with mental illness and happened to me.

I remember always having to sleep with the radio on or I would have nightmares. The radio always “tuned” our my parents’ arguments and I could sleep. Not realizing I may have developed PTSD, I still had to sleep with the radio on even after I moved out of the house or I would have the same dreams over and over again. This was the case for 9 years after moving out. Continue reading

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