The Mental Illness Awareness Week blog, sharing stories of recovery, personal experiences, and mental health/mental illness news.


Face-to-Face with Alicia Raimundo

My name is Alicia Raimundo, and I have been through an interesting life for a 23 year old.  Growing up, I had a great family who provided anything I could ever need or want for.  I had a great education from both the public and private school systems. However, I was a different kid.  For as long as I can remember I did not experience the joys and happiness the other kids did.  I spent much of my time worrying about not being about to cheer myself up and hating myself for not being perfect.  I was the kid that no one really noticed, who starved for some sort of attention from my peers or teachers. In my darkest days, I remember wishing that someone would bully me, so that someone would notice me.  When I tried to make friends, I was so anxious about not being good enough that I would brag or put down the other kid to try and show them that I could be good enough. This, of course, did not work. I shut down, and just assumed that I could not make friends. 

 At that point, the loneliness, anxiety and depression took over and I decided that I should not be alive anymore.  I spent time speaking to professionals and trying to get up the courage to take my own life when I encountered a woman in a therapy office. She looked at me and said “from one crazy person to another, you will need this” and handed me a necklace that said hope.  Hope was something that I never had, well, other than hoping for more cookies as a young kid.  At that moment, I knew I could not give up on myself until I had tried breaking my life into smaller goals to hope for.  As I was working out this plan in my mind the woman’s daughter came up to me and said “I am sorry, my mom is in a manic phase and is giving away her stuff… can I have the necklace back”.  This woman and her daughter saved my life, and they will never know it.  I hoped to watch my sister graduate from high school ( which happened two years ago) and now I hope to stay here to show others that living doesn’t have to be so hard.  I am empowered by many great youth centric organizations like MindYourMInd and have many tactics in place to combat my bad days.

Recovery is possible because we are all mental health superheroes. We fight our illnesses like the bad guys in comic books and we are strong enough to make it to today, to reading this blog post. Recovery is easier, when we can fight our bad guys without a mask. When we feel comfortable enough in our communities that fighting a mental illness is okay, and not something to be ashamed of.  Our society is not there yet, but with great events like MIAW, amazing charities, and companies like Bell we will get there one day soon.  We need to make it so people don’t have to choose between getting better or having respect of society.  We need to allow them to be Iron Men and Woman. To fight their illness, their bad guys, and have respect for being strong enough to achieve everything in spite of it. 


Face-to-Face with Laurie Pinard

Hi, my name is Laurie and I live with mental illness. My story is about hope. My story is about the fight. I’m a 44 year old woman who has fought my way back to health from the edge of despair and darkness. I lost everything I had and I almost lost my life. I am here to give hope to anyone who suffers with mental illness that it is possible to get well and lead a fulfilling, productive life.

I used to have a big life but lost it all – my career in politics, my money, my possessions and most of my relationships due to mental illness. I suffered for years from bipolar disorder until I hit rock bottom in 2009. I have tried to commit suicide more than once and was hospitalized numerous times. It wasn’t until my 40’s that I admitted I needed help and sought it.

I never believed I could get better. I never believed in hope or the possibility of a healthy existence. All I saw was darkness. My mind didn’t work. My body was in constant pain. I was a broken person. How could it be possible that I could ever get better? Well, I proved myself wrong and slowly but surely began to get my health and sanity back.

The road to wellness began slowly. As each day progressed I put one foot in front of the other and made progress towards stability. Some of the help I received included a great psychiatrist, an incredible therapist, the loving support of my parents, a steady regime of nutritional supplements, a great deal of restful sleep, and lots of physical exercise. However, the single most important element of my recovery was me. I decided to finally take responsibility for every aspect of my life, my illness, my recovery, my treatment – absolutely everything. It was this decision to face my fears and choose to live instead of giving into the darkness that made the difference in my recovery.  I decided to change my attitude from being a victim of this illness to being an advocate of healthy living despite having a mental illness disability.

Responsibility meant working harder than I’ve ever worked before. It meant getting up when I didn’t want to. It meant facing fears I was terrified of. It meant pushing myself despite the hardships. The key to my health and recovery was accepting responsibility and fighting for a life I dreamed of. I wanted to be healthy, strong, and independent and I wanted to thrive. The only way I was going to achieve those goals was to fight – fight, fight, fight!

Today I am proud to say I’m a running instructor who motivates others. I’ve also returned to university in the field of social work. I want to become a social worker to help others like me who struggle with mental illness challenges. I still have bipolar disorder but today I have learned how to live with it and create a life I thrive at. Each day is still hard, but since deciding to face my fears and embrace difficult challenges I have developed the strength to work with my disability and face life head-on. Anyone, absolutely anyone can come back from the depths of despair to live and thrive. I did.