I am a Métis Two Spirited (lesbian) woman.
The bulk of my work history is in blue collar work; in security and food service just after high school and then as a professional driver for about 15 years.
My first love has always been the arts. I am a multi-media artist, a writer, songwriter, poet and musician, performing on stage for over 25 years.
I have bi-polar type II, chronic post traumatic disorder and chronic anxiety. I hope to continue my work in the arts and pursue an education in the humanities.
This is the first time that I am looking at my vocational objectives. I am now mentally healthier than I ever have been and I have supports in place which I didn't have before. (I was diagnosed with serious mental illness at the age of 3 and didn't have supports.)
I can see myself doing something where I am today as a 45 yr. old person.
I am now encountering obstacles to reaching my vocational dreams because of having little education and little experience that is needed in order to accomplish these dreams.
I'm 45 years old. I was diagnosed with depression, anxiety and agoraphobia in 1996, but have lived with it all my life.
The Photovoice project gave me an opportunity to break the cycle of agoraphobia by being with a group. It helped to break my fears and it opened up a new world full of opportunities. I learned new photography skills. Having to take pictures helped me to fight my agoraphobia.
Being part of this group was the hardest thing for me to do, but also the most rewarding. Now I'm employed part–time on contract after being unemployed for over 10 years. I never thought I would work again.
I am 45 years old. I studied Business at St. Lawrence College. I started as an assistant accounting clerk and found myself questioning life. I worked at Famous Players, then I dropped out of life for 15 years.
Photovoice allowed me to rekindle my interest in photography. The group also gave me a yearning to meet new people.
Harry experienced his first bout with schizophrenia at the age of 22. After recovery he worked as a photo retail salesclerk for many years. In 1996 Harry decided to study at Algonquin College to become an Archives Technician. This course enriched his life and sparked new interests in history, computers and genealogy, but did not lead to a job in the field, due to its highly academic nature.
Harry has one healthy and productive daughter, and currently volunteers at his church's Family History Center where he maintains their collection database and website.
I am a middle aged woman who has suffered with chronic depression since childhood. It was only 5 years ago that I was properly diagnosed. I am now on daily medications and functioning well.
I am articulate and enjoy speaking in public. I am reliable and I follow through on a task until completed, no matter the degree of difficulty. I am presently volunteering at Canadian Mental Health Association, Ottawa Branch in various projects such as Photovoice and as the Chair of the Financial Accessibility Committee. Over the past few months I have been employed part time as a participant evaluator of the Banking Project.
I am 25 and was diagnosed with schizophrenia at 18, while at university.
I have my A+ certification in computers, and had been looking for employment in this field for 4 ½ years through the Employment Supports Program, without luck. I enjoy most electronics and gaming – video, computer, or even board games.
Since this project, I completed a university course in Computer Science and I have been hired as a part-time computer technician for a non-profit agency. Eventually I would like to complete my degree in Computational Geophysics.
My name is Taz. I am in my 20's and my mental illness disrupted my education and my work experience. My most recent jobs have been working at the Ottawa Exhibition and working at Winners doing stocking.
I was interested in being part of this project because it gave me a chance to express my frustrations and my aspirations related to working. We all share the same desire to have gainful employment and to be contributing members of society.
I am a self-employed artist/photographer, as well as a Registered Holistic Nutritionist. I was diagnosed at 45 with borderline personality disorder with suicidal ideations. I also cope daily with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. I have worked in the government and as a Lab Technician making herbal supplements and I have raised two children who are now 20 and 22. I enjoy playing softball and hockey. This project interested me as I want to show people that those of us living with a mental illness are educated, intelligent people.
As a Clinical Psychologist, I never expected to be on this side of the couch. On the up side, I now feel I have more authority when talking about mental illness. Despite my training, or perhaps because of it, I still struggle with issues of disclosure. This project has helped me to feel more comfortable with coming out.
Raised in low-income housing by a single parent who suffered from bipolar disorder, Braveheart's turbulent childhood did not deter her dreams of going to university and carving out a fulfilling career. She was devastated to find out in her early twenties that she had inherited the same chaotic disease that had marred her upbringing. Nonetheless, Braveheart wanted to make a difference and her involvements led to United Way Community Builder and Governor General Canada 125 awards plus a valuable sense of meaning.
After 20+ years of living in shameful silence about her mental illness, both professionally and personally, she recently turned a health crisis into a learning opportunity. Rising like the proverbial phoenix from the ashes, she began challenging outdated stereotypes. Braveheart returned to work last year and aspires to one day champion mental health. Participating in "Working with the Whole Picture" is a small step in that direction.
I am a 59 year old man who receives support from the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). I grew up in northwestern Ontario and Ottawa. I have a journalism degree from Carleton University. Photography is one of my hobbies, so this project introduced me to digital photography and allowed me to consider some options around returning to work.
Creativity has been one of the few means of allowing me to deal with a life of depression and stigma. Growing up I have focused on the negative aspects of life and not all the wonders the world has to offer. This program has allowed me to see my strengths and to flourish and grow. My future is “Now”. I will only grow with my belief in knowing I have much to offer myself and others.
M.M. has done a lot of odd jobs in his life, in a variety of fields. In 1989 he was working full time as an Electronic Technician when he became ill. He has been off work for some time and now volunteers 3 to 4 days a week as an Electronic Technician for a private company. M.M. would like in the future to work in a business related to animal care.
I always envisioned myself being at the peak of my career at “thirty something”, after my many trying years of schooling. Instead my daunting mental health issues stalled, then re-oriented, my career goal. With determination, perseverance, skill and a lot of support I accepted a promotion within four months of this gradual return to work plan. This group was my most valued peer support; it built my confidence, my sense of accomplishment and eventually my self esteem.
Taking pictures is a great passion of mine. It allows me to live in the moment. Reflecting on the weekly photography topic allowed me to be prepared for the obstacles I faced in daily work life. In essence my pictures are the documentation of this journey.
I am 58 years old grandfather. After three years of being homeless, I now have my own apartment. I did this project and learned a lot. I'm involved in other projects now. I've just finished volunteer training and the Wellness Recovery Action Plan program.
I'm a working, 60+ empty-nester and I'm looking forward to an active and healthy retirement that includes continued work and volunteering. For me, retirement is not an ending but a change of direction. This project helped me to clarify the path I would like to follow for a fulfilling second adulthood.
Married with children at 17, the eldest in a parentless family
of 8, hope, determination, tenacity and personal responsibility
were the cornerstones of my being. Returning to university at
29, getting a Commerce Degree and planning for my
career; I thought I had it all. Mental illness approached like
a tornado out of the blue and suddenly my world was a roller coaster
ride of successes and failures, in and out of the eye of the storm.
Juggling roles as wife, mother, student and employee, I experienced
numerous challenges to my livelihood and acquiesced to a state
of near invisibility under a cloak of "normality".
I now know that being open is how I feel alive and maintain my integrity and authenticity. I facilitate workshops on recovery, sit on a board of a Consumer Support Initiative and volunteer. I look forward to the next challenge and work.