Marion Anderson has fought a slew of mental health labels over the years, “I’ve fought the blackest of depressions, fought my way back from suicide attempts and self harm,” she says. “The stigma has been ever present, but through every step of the way, I’ve been continually fighting and learning to be a better mother and person.”
Throughout her life, Marion experienced severe traumas including childhood abuse, spousal abuse, and the tragic and violent death of her young niece. These experiences resulted in her living with PTSD, agoraphobia and bipolar disorder for most of her adult life.
Prior to Ontario Shores, Marion had spent four years in an anxiety clinic and had seen various psychiatrists, “even though I was trying to get better, I kept repeating the same patterns and letting the same toxic people into my life.” Then, through a COPE bipolar group, she heard about Ontario Shores and asked her family doctor for a referral.
After her initial assessment, Marion was admitted into the Traumatic Stress Clinic at Ontario Shores. “Trauma therapy is very intense,” she says, “there are a lot of negative emotions that come up and it can be very overwhelming.” To balance her recovery journey, she began attending two Recovery College courses, one of which was Art Café where she started to explore her creativity and discovered she was a painter.
“Ontario Shores is the first place I have felt any sense of comfortableness, belonging, community, acceptance and uniquely able to be myself. In all my life I have never felt I was accepted or comfortable anywhere until Ontario Shores.”
In addition to painting, Marion writes poetry and is an advocate for mental health and wellness. She is determined to share her story in the hopes of paying her learnings and healings forward. “I want others living with trauma and mental illness to know that you can live. That life can get better, easier and more peaceful. That you just have to be sure to persevere, work hard to heal, be brave and love yourself.”
Thank you, Marion, for sharing you story with us, and for helping us to launch the Waves of Gratitude program.