A Christmas of Isolation and Sadness

  • Posted on: 20 November 2017
  • By: Cherry Lynn Brown

The Christmas season is quickly approaching. Shops and businesses are decorating and even some homes. Social gatherings with lovely food, friends and family are the norm for the next month.

The flip side to this picture perfect Christmas is one of sadness and isolation. There are many of us out there, and I am just one example of a family, that has a family member who struggles with their mental health.

My son doesn’t need a free meal or a new pair of socks or blanket to handed to him on the street. I ensure these basic needs are met in a home that I work incredibly hard to maintain all on my own. There is no respite provided for me or any hope or opportunities for a better life my young adult son. It is a daily grind and I am grateful that I am here to make things the best they can be for now.

Isolation we know is harmful to anyone regardless of age. The pain in my heart cannot be explained with the knowledge that I am the only person in the world that is here for my son. It has been eight years that he has been in the basement of my home. He once tried to work but that failed as there was no support for him in the workplace and it didn’t work out. A failure or two like that and quickly self-esteem drops to zero and there is no hope for him to try again.

So please don’t be quick to judge people who are not working. Mental illness is an invisible condition and if you walked by my son in the street you wouldn’t think anything was amiss. Things were 100% normal until his first year of university when his illness began to rule his life and mine as well. This illness can happen to anyone at anytime. The World Health Organization tells us one in four will have a mental illness.

If I had been living in Richmond eight years ago when my son took ill he would have had access immediately upon release from the psychiatric hospital to the Pathways Clubhouse. The Clubhouse would have guided and encouraged him to reach goals and provide opportunities. This would have all taken place on a time-line that my son was comfortable and able to cope with.

Not only would he have had peers to connect with he would have a place to go to every day – where he was needed and wanted. Christmas Day he could visit the Clubhouse and have a community of people and share a meal and socialize.

It is incredibly painful to think what could have been for my son and so many others like him if this same model of psychosocial rehabilitation was available in the Greater Victoria Area. Please support us to help people like my son so that we can reduce the social and emotional costs associated with crisis care in the form of hospitalizations, policing and prisons. Our children deserve better than this – I know my son does.

Cherry Lynn Brown