Diagnosed with Bipolar disorder in 1997, I'd been living with the shame and embarrassment of it for 10 years until I realized it is not who I am rather something I have - like my left hand. I currently coach others who have a mood disorder to empower them in their life, speak publicly about my success story with a mood disorder and facilitate mental health seminars. I'm married, live in Toronto and have a mortgage. My game in life is to transform societies perception of mental health. See my Mood Disorder success story on You Tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubuDC-v2-U4
How does one decision change your life? How does a motorcycle accident lead to a life of drug addiction, homelessness and mental illness? .... And a single act of kindness lead to an unexpected diagnosis, then healing, growth, and a new lease on life that followed?
Life in Toronto was good, even great. Growing up in an affluent family in an upscale neighbourhood in Toronto, Leslie was destined to have it all. Things were going well for this 26 year old, who set out west to experience life on her own in a new city, Vancouver.
Soon after, a motorcycle accident caused life to take a turn. For awhile she was able to self-medicate to manage the chronic pain resulting from the accident... Then Leslie was fired from a catering job and began a slow slip into depression. Unable to find a reason to work, to be responsible for herself or her life, endless nights of partying came fast. Little did she know, the choices she was making would be her ticket off the edge of reason and sanity. Literally.
It seemed like she was living in her own bad dream, unable to wake up! One day working, then two, three, partying and eventually a life on the street. Friends and family didn't know what was going on and neither did she. Leslie was caught in a vortex of depression and drugs. A cocktail of ecstasy and pot fuelled her highs and lows hits bottoms she had never new were possible.
Coming from a family with a legacy of propriety and secrets, no one dared to link Leslie's behaviour with mental illness. If it hadn't been for one close friend who did dare to reach out - Leslie's story could have been yet another life lost to the streets... and to our shame and denial of an illness, not unlike allergies and diabetes that affects - affects 1 in 3 Canadians, and is treatable.
Currently, Leslie Bennett enjoys a successful career, is happily married to a loving husband and takes great solace in sharing her story with others to ensure their journey is lighter and less harrowing than her own...
May 31, 2009
Nov 13, 2013