There is a lot of stigma towards mental illness but I was involved in a situation where I felt it firsthand.
In 2013 my marriage ended, my boyfriend had moved in and we were both basically starting from scratch; I’m living on one income and he’s starting his business in a new city. Things were tough for a while. Most people live paycheck to paycheck; we were just barely doing that. In order to make ends meet, we had no choice but to go to the local food bank once a month. That was a god sent; don’t know what we would’ve done without it.
There was an incident with my boyfriend and the organizer, they had a conversation over information and my boyfriends’ mental health was brought up; the organizer had to include that into the conversation and say the phrase “people like you”. The moment that was said, I could feel my face heating up, I was so upset! This organizer was in his 70’s/80’s and you would think he had more cooth. Just because my boyfriend was getting upset and trying to get this situation figured out, the organizer had to take things another direction.
My father had manic depression and an addiction to prescription medication. When he had taken his medication, for his back injury, the way he was supposed to, he was fine, the father we knew. When he had taken too much, we knew by the way he would talk and act; became very aggressive verbally and physically. After a while, family members didn’t want to be around him. From what I remember, I don’t think family and friends were aware my father lived with manic depression; they just knew something wasn’t right with him. They didn’t see or hear what we saw, behind closed doors but they did see and hear enough to label my father scary and dangerous.
In regards to the food bank incident, we did take action and talked to our MP and she reassured us that she dealt with it and talked to the organizer about the discrimination.
In regards to my family, I wish I knew then what I know now and talk to family members and friends about the manic depression and addiction. That was 20+ years ago and I really didn’t know myself, what was going on.
As an advocate, my goal is to keep writing my articles based on my experiences and hope that it has educated at least one person or helped someone living with the same situation.
Anita Levesque is a web and graphic designer, a mental health advocate with lived experience through loved ones; father – bipolar; brother – PTSD, depression, anxiety; mother – PTSD; boyfriend – clinical depression, severe OCD, GAD, personality disorders. The goal with my website, http://mentalillness-doyouknow.com is to focus on personal experiences rather than articles by doctors and medical professionals who haven’t experienced mental illness. Anita writes articles for several websites on topics such as OCD, Addictions, Suicide, PTSD and more. She resides in Stoney Creek, Ontario and interests are photography, reading, music, learning, spending time with her family.