A message of hope and recovery: Nicky shares her story to raise awareness for National Mental Health Week

May. 04, 2012

Four years ago, Nicky was living on the streets. With nothing but the clothing on her back, she felt alone, lost and was suffering from a mental illness she had left untreated.

Nicky has schizoaffective disorder, a relatively uncommon condition where an individual experiences both psychotic symptoms and serious fluctuations in mood. Diagnosed at age 22, she has been learning to manage her symptoms since she was a young woman and believes that acceptance of her mental illness was the first step towards her recovery.

“I used to think I was just a wild person,” says Nicky. “But that wasn’t me, that was my illness. Once I had accepted the fact that I had a mental health disorder, I found it easier to seek treatment and stick to taking my medication.”

The Canadian Mental Health Association’s National Mental Health Week is May 7 to 13, 2012; an annual campaign aimed at encouraging people from all walks of life to learn, talk, reflect and engage with others on all issues relating to mental health. As a way to reach out to those who may be struggling with a mental illness during this week of awareness, Nicky wants to share her story and her successes in managing her illness.

Nicky eventually became a voluntary patient at St. Joseph’s Regional Mental Health Care (RMHC) in the Mood and Anxiety Program, where she still attends regular appointments as an outpatient. But excellent and compassionate medical care is only one component of recovery. It’s vital for those dealing with a mental illness to feel useful as a contributing member of society, says Nicky.

“I remember feeling as though everyone else was involved in something meaningful…and I was on the outskirts. I now realize that all things are possible for me too.”

Nicky volunteers her time in many ways at RMHC, including playing the organ at services held in the Chapel of Hope
Nicky volunteers her time in many ways at RMHC, including playing the organ at services held in the Chapel of Hope

Living in her own apartment for the past three years, Nicky is now successfully managing her illness and living a life full of activity. She works part time as a professional animal groomer, teaches music out of her home, plays the organ at the RMHC Chapel of Hope services held for patients, and is volunteer at RMHC where she visits with patients and takes part in a recovery education course for family members.

“We are all meant to live full and meaningful lives,” says Nicky. “I hope talking about my recovery will help to inspire others.”

For more information or to arrange interviews, contact:
Renee Sweeney, Consultant
Communication and Public Affairs
St. Joseph’s Health Care London
Phone: 519 646-6100 ext. 47788
Email: Renee.Sweeney@sjhc.london.on.ca


May 7 to 13 is National Mental Health Week
This year's theme is "Mental Health for All."  To find out how you can exercise your own mental health and for resources which provide a broader understanding of mental health, stigma, discrimination, children and mental health and resiliency.

St. Joseph’s Health Care London
St. Joseph’s Health Care London is leading patient care, teaching and research centre in Canada with a distinguished legacy of service to London, Southwestern Ontario and the veterans of Canada, dating back more than 130 years. St. Joseph’s five key role areas include acute/ambulatory care, complex care and veterans care, long-term care, rehabilitation and specialized geriatrics and specialized mental health care. Facilities and services including St. Joseph’s Hospital, Parkwood Hospital, Mount Hope Centre for Long Term Care and Regional Mental Health Care London and St. Thomas are part of the St. Joseph’s family. Our research arm, the Lawson Health Research Institute, continues to direct their research to the development of new knowledge that is continually being applied directly to patient care. St. Joseph’s is affiliated with the University of Western Ontario. Visit www.sjhc.london.on.ca


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