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Kathy Mitchell

Growing up in a family where everything was “hush hush” Kathy Mitchell got used to not talking about how she was feeling or how others were feeling.

Now Kathy has a different view on this. She realizes that her father suffered from depression, just as she has for most of her life. Her father’s depression was never diagnosed and she recalls talking her father out of shooting himself when she was only seven.

“For years I was not comfortable telling people about my life, but now I understand how important it is to connect with others. It is part of the road to recovery. Until you really get talking you just assume everyone feels the same way you do. I had no idea most people did not feel like shit three days a week. I thought that was normal,” says Kathy. She left home when she was 16 and drank to forget and try to cope with her depression. She married and at the age of 30 she managed a turkey barn. She did a great job and the owners were very pleased with her work. They did not know that she did this with only two hours of sleep a night.

Her husband finally got her to hospital when he could not get her out of bed. This was a turning point in her life when she began treatment for her depression.

In 1997 Kathy began to volunteer with CMHA and she has been doing this ever since. She provides a lot of personal support to people with mental illness and facilitates some of CMHA’s peer support groups.

“When a person has somebody to call it is so important. Sometimes the support groups become a person’s family,” she says. “I love it,” she says. “By me helping them, they are helping me. Talking to peers is a good way to realize you are not alone and that support is out there.”

“I have been down and out and I know what it feels like. Being able to help other people is the best reason I know to get up in the morning,” says Kathy.

Kathy Mitchell