My path to volunteering for CMHA WW began in September 2017 when I traveled to Italy and was asked about a tattoo that I have on my left arm that reads “my story isn’t over yet”. From answering this question, a member of our hiking group overheard the conversation and it allowed her to open up to me about her experience with mental health. Someone she cared very deeply about tried to suicide more than once. Upon hearing this, I did what I always would do, lit candles at the cathedral in each village we hiked through with the hope that my thoughts and prayers would help. I have had the great fortune to become friends with this person, and we regularly keep in touch, and discuss mental health often. It shows how far reaching mental health struggles can be.
Upon returning to Canada, I wanted to light candles for close friends and family members who were dealing with serious health related issues; however, I was not able to do this with great ease so I decided on a 2nd tattoo – a church candle burning with the words “see you in a few chapters” written through the smoke. This idea came out of Italy again from a stranger hiking in the opposite direction who stopped only to ask what my first tattoo said. I have found that by having mental health body art, I have engaged family, friends, work colleagues, and strangers in conversations and that I have a great deal of passion for helping others. I chose to volunteer with CMHA WW, not only for the reason above, but also due to other life experiences with mental health. I have met a wonderful group of people with lots of knowledge and experience and I know that my empathy and passion for people will grow and develop as a result.
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