#RaiseYourWiseHand: Destigmatizing Mental Illness

Wise Women Canada was started by psychotherapist Lisa Brookman and educator Elizabeth Wiener. It focuses on women’s issues – particularly women’s mental health.

They are currently promoting the movement #RaiseYourWiseHand around World Mental Health day on October 10th. By using the hashtag, they’re hoping we can help strip mental illness of the stigma that lingers on. We caught up with Liz and Lisa this week.

SDTC: Walk us through a typical day in your life:

Liz: I always start my day with coffee. I actually can’t function without it! Once I’m caffeinated, I head to the gym or a hot yoga class. I love the endorphin high I get from exercise, and I rarely miss a day. I learned a long time ago that a good sweat is essential for both my physical and mental health. From there, I head home to shower and prepare for some time at my desk where I’ll work on the blog and the materials I need for the clients I’ll see later in the day. Given that I work most late afternoons and evenings, I always set aside time to get dinner together during the afternoon so that I don’t have to worry about it when I get home. After picking up my three teenagers from school, I head to work as a strategic tutor, helping elementary and high school students with organizational and study skills and reading strategies. Night-time is when I decompress, spending time with my kids, art journaling or binging on a Netflix series with my husband. My days are busy and full, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Have you had your own issues with mental health – or has someone close to you? 

Liz: I was diagnosed with depression and Generalized Anxiety Disorder when I was twenty-four, but I believe that I’ve struggled with my mental health since I was a child. Finally having a diagnosis was liberating. It meant I could, at last, get the help I desperately needed, and begin my road to recovery. That said, it was only last year, at the age of forty-three that I finally went public with my mental health story. Admitting that I struggle with mental illness was daunting at first. I was afraid I might feel exposed; that people would look at me differently. I was concerned that my professional reputation would be compromised and that I might lose the respect from my community and family. But in the end, all of my fears proved completely unfounded. Rather than disrespect or contempt, I’ve felt only love, support and gratitude.

Lisa: Ever since I could remember, I found myself drawn to helping and understanding others. I am a nurturer by nature, so it was almost instinctual for me to immerse myself in the helping profession. Over the years, I’ve worked with a wide range people with varying issues. Each client’s story is different and they inspire me to move forward in my private practice. Accompanying my clients on their journey of growth and evolution is truly an honour and so rewarding. I honestly couldn’t see myself doing anything else.

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