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Jenny’s Inspiring Story – The Impact of the Teens2Twenties Support Group

JennySeven years ago, I met Andrea Paquette and seven years ago, she and the Bipolar babe Teens2Twenties program saved my life.

Back then I wasn’t who I am today. I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder at the age of seven years old and it was at that age that I first attempted to commit suicide. Even being this young I knew I didn’t want to live because the feelings I had were too strong and I couldn’t understand how everything could be so painful. I thought life would always be that way and it started a very self-destructive cycle that took years to break.

Over the next several years I would be shuffled from foster home to foster home, my mental health would deteriorate rapidly and unfortunately, I would begin to normalize abusive situations. I developed a serious eating disorder, drug addiction and would go through various intense psychotic episodes which would result in hospitalizations due to my Bipolar Disorder.

Over the years, I would be hospitalized repeatedly due to self-harm. At my worst, I received forty-seven staples for self-inflicted wounds just to be released from the hospital and given no help what so ever, I was told I was a lost cause by doctors, nurses, friends and family.

When I aged out of foster care, I was put on permanent disability and was not expected to ever recover. My case was “difficult” and I wasn’t reacting to therapy and medication properly so I felt there was no way I would ever escape the torture that I was feeling on a day to day basis. I was unable to work, go grocery shopping, fill out forms or do normal day to day tasks such as cooking or cleaning. If I opened my eyes and reality set in, I would start crying and take more pills to fall asleep because being awake hurt too much.

At 20 years, old I met Andrea and I had no idea that it would change my life, she and the Society gave me purpose and a community ofshutterstock_126377570-2 people I could relate to. She gave me work and volunteer experience, she provided me with tons of resources such as guidance on how to assess proper psychiatric care, counseling and I attended the Teens2Twenties Support Group over the years. She eventually hired me as a group facilitator for the Society’s Women’s Group, supported my art and mostly importantly supported me. She and the Society saved my life.

Now I’m twenty-seven, I’ve gone to school full time and I currently work at a hair salon with the position of assistant manager and advanced stylist. I no longer suffer from psychotic episodes and my Bipolar Disorder is considered to be in stable condition, I no longer self-harm, I recovered from my drug addiction and eating disorder. I sell my art, volunteer, practice yoga and dance and I’m a very active part of my community.

I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Andrea, she and her Society literally saved my life and all I want is for others like me to have the chance I did!

Jenny

Shaw – GenWhy TV – Stigma Free Zone-Interview w/Andrea Paquette

There are numerous stigmas that exist in society such as mental illness, racism, sexual orientation, that contribute to our perceptions and attitudes of people. The Stigma-Free Zone programs support and educate individuals, especially youth, to manage their personal mental wellness. GenWhy TV talkes with Andrea Paquette at the Shaw Studio.

CAMIMH Faces of mental illness bell lets talk

Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH) – Faces of Mental Illness Campaign Sponsored by Bell Let’s Talk

The Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH) has announced the four Canadians selected for its annual Faces of Mental Illness campaign. CAMIMH received dozens of nominations, the most ever, from across the country of people living in recovery from mental illness.

Over the next year, the Faces will take part in events to educate Canadians about the realities of living with mental illness, and the effects that mental health has on the lives of all Canadians. The Faces of Mental Illness campaign is sponsored by Bell Let’s Talk. The stories of the Faces of Mental Illness will be featured on posters and postcards distributed to Canadians across the country. Also, they will participate in a national media outreach campaign as well as mini-documentaries which will be shared with federal policymakers at a marquee event on the Hill during Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), October 2 – 8. Spreading Awareness, Reducing Stigma is the theme of MIAW this year.

The 2016 Faces of Mental Illness are:

Andrea Paquette: After suffering greatly from her bipolar disorder, Andrea got help and decided to inspire others to share their personal stories by creating a website called http://bipolarbabes.com. With the launch of the website, she created supportive and impacting programs and founded the Bipolar Disorder Society of British Columbia, which is now named the Stigma-Free Society. Andrea encourages others to change their attitudes towards mental illnesses by explaining that while people can have a mental illness, they are not defined by their condition.

Samuel Breau: An engaged leader and advocate since a young age, Samuel’s journey towards recovery began during university. After moving from rural New Brunswick to Ottawa and facing the high expectations from school, scholarships and peers, Samuel became aware that he may be living with a mental illness, and subsequently sought treatment for a generalized anxiety disorder. Today, Samuel combines professional and personal experiences to deliver powerful messages that seek to reduce stigma and promote psychological health and wellness for all.

Dexter Nyuurnibe: An African-Canadian mental health advocate who understands the importance of breaking the gender stereotypes that define masculinity in order to erase the stigma associated with mental illnesses. He’s shared his story many times, having presented a TEDx talk and at a joint session of the World Bank and W.H.O in Washington, D.C. He continues to speak up about his experiences of suffering from dysthymia and generalized anxiety disorder and recovery.

Stéphanie Fontaine: Stephanie understands the struggles of coping with a mental disorder, having bipolar disorder. Her successful experience in corporate workplaces while fighting towards recovery makes for a hopeful story. She put aside her career as an actuary to join Revivre, a non profit organization supporting self-management for people with anxiety and mood disorders in the province of Quebec. She reaches out to the public to make others aware not only that anybody can suffer from a mental illness, but also that anyone can recover from it.

To learn more about the campaign, or to order campaign materials, please visit http://www.camimh.ca. CAMIMH would like to thank their generous sponsors who make this campaign possible: Bell Let’s Talk, Lundbeck Canada Inc., The Mental Health Commission of Canada, Innovative Medicine’s Canada, and Impact Public Affairs.

For more information, please contact: Charlotte Webber Communications and Public Relations 613-233-8906 charlotte@impactcanada.com