Charlotte Groarke hopes that you will consider helping CMHA provide support to Calgary families this holiday season.
Winter in Calgary marks the beginning of the most celebrated time of year – it’s when we gather as families, share gifts, acknowledge community and experience gratitude for the people in our lives.
But the holiday season can also bring with it additional stress. This is especially true for those of us with family members who are struggling with mental illness. My daughter Mary is one of my eight beautiful children and has been living with schizophrenia since she was 35 years old.
The Family Support program at CMHA Calgary has been a source of great support for me as my daughter navigates her illness. It is easy to be confused about the best way to relate to mentally ill family members. When Mary was first diagnosed 18 years ago, we searched desperately for answers as we lived through the roller coaster of her emotions and ours. It was a long haul for Mary as she tried multiple treatment combinations and many hospitalizations until she stabilized. But it was challenging for me too, and I found I needed someone there for me. I needed to find support to stay well myself so that I could care of Mary. This led me to the Family Support program at CMHA.
Here I learned that I am not alone. I found other parents and family members who understood the difficult road I was now trying to navigate. I now understand that there are people just like me; it is possible to get through hard times when you have the support of someone who understands. I was able to share in a safe place and learn about resources. Most importantly I learned skills and strengthened myself so I could be there for Mary when she needed, and still needs, me the most.
I know the statistics tell us that one in five Canadians are affected by mental health or addiction challenges at some point in their lifetime. But that number doesn’t reflect the real impact of these issues on the other four out of the five; those of us who know and love someone who is fighting this difficult battle.
It is for those four out of five that I am appealing to you today. Without the Family Support program, I know I wouldn’t be be in the positive place I now am. For 15 years, it has been my safe place. I’ve gone from needing support to where I am today. Now I volunteer and attend regularly to help other families weather the storms and support their loved ones as best they can during difficult times.
I know that although we have been fortunate to have had the support of CMHA’s Family Support program, there are many more families in our community who need it.
Help us support this vital resource for the family and friends of those challenged by mental health issues as they work to regain wellness and recover. We need your support.