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.
Joanie 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 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
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
Written by Anita Levesque
The mental health community was in shock yesterday, March 29, 2016. Patty Duke passed away at 69. She was a very well known actress but she was best known for her mental health advocacy work since her bipolar diagnoses in 1982.
It was in the late 1980’s and I remember my grandmother talking about my father going to psychiatrists and counselors when he was a teenager, because she knew there was something not right, she called it a chemical imbalance.
When I was younger, I knew there was something wrong with my father and tried to be patient with him. There were days he didn’t want to see or talk to anyone and would be in his room for weeks a time. Once he comes out, he’s happy, ready to go places, buy whatever we wanted. Other days he was so angry at the world, violently angry, veins growing on his neck and face beet red angry, he would take it out on anyone who was around him; family and/or friends. He lost a lot of friends and some family didn’t want anything to do with him. Continue reading
First of all, apologies as I haven’t written a blog for a while. It’s down to a few reasons, work family also, I have been reading a few blogs and social media (tweets, Facebook posts) .
Everybody has their own unique way of writing and telling their stories which is amazing, it’s really helpful and takes some bottle to really open up and tell all, I have total respect to you all and thank you.
While reading them, I can see myself in most but also get why there is this stigma (which is bollocks). I tried to read from a neutral point of view and read every word as though I’d never struggled with anxiety attacks and mental health issues due to them. The words , the sentences they seem fictional!! Even though I know that they are 100% true, a ‘normal’ person reading them will think that we are lying. But why would people make things up? I write not to scare sufferers, I do not lie, I just want to let people know that it is ok, EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT!! I’m willing to tell you what goes on in my head and my life to try and help if you want to talk about or read it.
The help is great, can’t fault the blogs, however I’m going to talk about an incident, one like no other has made me think about people and my mental illness.
Us caregiver’s take on the role of care-giving because we have to, because we want to, but most of all because we love someone who needs us to fulfill this role.
I’m going to dive right in and state that sometimes I want to bang my head on the keyboard when I see or hear another reference to ‘tough love’ like it is something to be shunned and ashamed of. The idea that by practicing ‘tough love’, one is not practicing ‘unconditional love’.
Love is defined as an intense feeling of deep affection.
During the years, I must admit…. Even though the panic/anxiety has been crippling and I would not wish it upon my worst enemy, there have been some stories to tell. I cringed at the time, but when we (I mean close friends and family) talk about it them, laughter comes of it.
Which can only be good?
When I was about 25, the attacks were in full flow, I could not be left alone , never!! As you know , I was desperate , dependant on everyone and anyone. Selfishly struggling through that part of my life.
Sometimes when writing or blogging I will use the term roller coaster… As a parent or caregiver of someone with a mental illness it is a term a lot of us use. A very fitting term if you ask me. There are lots of different roller coasters throughout the world. One of the top ten being the Bizarro (formerly known as Superman: Ride of Steel) in Agawam, Massachusetts USA. My favorite, possible because I have ridden it, is the Ghoster Coaster. It’s a small wooden one in Canada’s Wonderland in Ontario, Canada.
Mental illness is very real and affects everyone around, not just the person living with it. Do you know anyone with a mental illness, have you lived with someone and seen it first hand? If not, you won’t know how stressful it truly can be.
As someone who knows, it can play a tole on you and you may not even realize it. I’ve already been through it with my father and brother and it was very stressful. I don’t know if it was the best way, but my way of handling my father and his manic depression was living a life in books. Reading books was my way of blocking out the yelling and screaming, my other way of coping was the more jobs I had, the better, and the less time I was at home.