Annual Updates

FEBRUARY 1st, 2017

CandleSadly  we again light the candle of remembrance for the death of our daughter, Elizabeth on the 1st February, 2013  For family and siblings, it gets no easier.   For us her mom and dad, it is achingly painful viscerally so. This, the fourth year, we have come to reason grief is not enough to honor her memory. Grief must be turned into action. This is what Elizabeth would have done. Elizabeth resides quietly, comfortably, lovingly within our hearts to be visited when we feel the need and the need is often.

The action we speak of is to bring a Pathways Clubhouse to Victoria. This is a long post. We ask you to read to the end and to follow through with our request.

In Victoria at this time are nine frustrated parents united in one common goal, to find help for their adult children with mental illness. These parents formed a committee known as Family Voices for Mental Wellness. Each parent has an adult child living in the parental home or in an apartment close by so decimated by serious mental illness they rarely leave the house or apartment and are virtually lost to participation in life.  Imagine how it is for these parents having to be on constant guard for adult children wasting away in uselessness and hopelessness. Several parents have not had a holiday in years. They are forever on duty; constantly interacting and advocating for their adult children with professionals and health employees; forever paying rent, food and clothes for these adult children who would be self-sufficient if it were not for their illness. Additionally, they have a further worry. They worry when they die, what will become of their adult sons and daughters?

However, there is good news. There is Pathways Clubhouses International, a solution to the problem of loneliness discrimination and stigma. The Pathways Clubhouse is an established, proven successful model of rehabilitation for adults with mental illness. If success is gauged by numbers, then the 322 International Pathways Clubhouses in North America involved in the rehabilitation of mental illness, speaks to success. The combined mission of Family Voices for Mental Wellness is to open a Pathways Clubhouse in Victoria.

We want you know more about Pathways Clubhouses. They are not a place to watch sitcoms or paint by numbers. The Clubhouse model is carefully and purposefully structured so as to be NOT an institutional sofa. The Pathways Clubhouse focuses strongly on eliminating stigma by providing a safe environment for socializing and discovery. A Pathways Clubhouse centers on the strengths of the person not the illness. A Pathways Clubhouse is a place where those vulnerable do not feel judged, discriminated or outsiders on the side-lines; where they have a sense of inclusion, belonging, of teambuilding, feel the safety of respect for individuality and difference, all of which empowers their self-worth to form meaningful friendships and to pursue work or study. The Clubhouse is bright, cheerful, airy, comfortable and, vitally important, is not institutional in any way. Pathways Clubhouses recognize that the institutional setting is stigmatizing. Pathways Clubhouses enable individual adults with mental illness to evaluate themselves, their strengths and yes, their weaknesses, to build on the natural skills and abilities we all have, explore their talents and creativity and the opportunities for work, college or university. It is a feel-happy place where everybody counts, where lonely young adults can build a community and a life for themselves. It is a place for adults with mental illness to know how to live a full, happy and productive life like you and me.  A Pathways Clubhouse offers hope for recovery where hitherto there has been none.

A typical Pathways Clubhouse is open every day, evenings and weekends including statutory holidays for activities and socialization. There are very few staff at a Pathways Clubhouse. This is a deliberate policy to give members opportunities to learn co-operation, teambuilding, responsibility, cooking, maintenance, office work and leadership activities. A strong routine, good work habits and consistency prepares members for the return to mainstream society. Individual help is given to members with finding jobs, peer support at interviews and monitoring if needed while on the job. The younger adults in a Pathways Clubhouse are part of the future of our country and they need, as we all do, a good reason to wake up in the morning.

In the usual course of life, adults are involved in the workforce or further education, building partnerships, spouses, friendships, and parenting, at the soccer or hockey arena, living to their capacities on a journey laced with fun and sometimes worries. Young adults with mental illness are unable to do this, not because they cannot, but because they face discrimination, rejection and loneliness.

None of us see ourselves as totally perfect but there are those that see themselves as ‘different’; they ‘do not fit’ – like a big hand in a small glove. When bullying, exclusion, rejection occur, the developing child comes to know isolation which, in turn, becomes ‘trauma’, a flux of swirling emotions, anger, sadness, worthlessness, resentment, emptiness, vulnerability and pessimism. Lonely people frequently feel others dislike them and they distance themselves. They believe that everyone else is happy except themself; that close friends are for some other species of human being. When depression enters the arena, the response is anger, worthlessness – better to hide, maybe to commit suicide.

There is a Pathways Clubhouse in Richmond, Vancouver, supported by Vancouver Coastal Health and private and business donations. Currently, there is not a Pathways Clubhouse in Victoria. If there were a Pathways Club in Victoria, the young adult children of Family Voices for Mental Wellness would not be lingering on the sofa hopeless and despairing but would be living the life of Riley in a safe, inviting, accepting, constructive community. Above all, they would not be lonely.

Had here been a Pathways Clubhouse in Toronto, just maybe that very mentally sick young man who pulled a gun recently in a crowd would have bonded with the activities of a young community; had he felt included with friends of his own age and interests, needed and purposeful, had a circle of friends to engage his mind, maybe his mind would not have festered on all he perceived bad in his life. Just maybe, this tragedy could have been averted.

A Pathways Clubhouse will come to Victoria. It will not be immediate but it will happen and soon because the will, the passion and the drive of the group of nine is there to make it happen. Family Voices for Mental Wellness is working diligently with Victoria’s Mayor, Island Health Authority and the Provincial Government to bring a Pathways Clubhouse to Victoria. There is much to get together and among these, yes, you’ve guessed it, two million dollars. A Pathways Clubhouse model is about half the annual costs of Community Mental Health Centers. Island Health pays $1,500 per day for an acute-care bed as against the $11.50 per day for each member in a Pathways Clubhouse.

Our mission for you (if you choose to accept it) is to pass the message of Pathways Clubhouses to your neighbors, friends, colleagues and relatives. Tell them that Pathways Clubhouses are a new model of psychosocial rehabilitation for adults with mental illness. The name Pathways Clubhouse should be on every tongue. Next year when we light the candle again, let us hope there will be a Pathways Clubhouse in Victoria. In Elizabeth’s name, please help. Thank you for reading this.

To those who have expressed to us their support on this sad day, we thank you.

P.S. If you know of someone with a couple of million to spare and a philanthropic nature, please let us know.

UPDATE:FEBRUARY 1st 2016, THE 3rd ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEATH OF MY BELOVED DAUGHTER, ELIZABETH

CandleOn the school recess field were small groups of kids, the populars, the nerds, the sports teamers and a child alone on the school steps. The laughing, animated children in the groups were no different to the child on the steps; they were kids yet to develop emotional intuition. They saw but do not see that child. They were happy in their groups feeling included with their friends and all was good. But what if you do not have a friend at school or in adult life; if you feel, “different”, maybe are “different” and the “difference” tells you and others there is a piece of the jigsaw that does not fit? Involvement with peers is vitally important to children.

The story in 1955 of the prematurely born twins not doing well snapshot (2)until a nurse decided to put them together in the same incubator, the iconic photo of one twin with its arm around the other, hit the headlines and changed the face of medicine.

Today, doctors realize newborns in incubators need to be held, to feel human touch, to feel nurtured. Conversation is a complex art, one with which we all struggle. To express ourselves in tender, sincere, loving, respectful ways is quite some skill. To some, conversation comes easily. To others, conversation is difficult and theirs is a more silent world. “No man is an Island” is the human need for social connection. To be happy, we must feel loved, valued, have a soul mate, be in love and be loved. Our Moms and Dads nurtured us through our childhood and, in the natural order of evolution, they pass away. We thank them for their lovingness, for their caring and remember them with tenderness. Now, it is our turn to be moms and dads, to raise our children in loving arms among caring family and friends. We acknowledge that we are social beings yet, oddly, if we talk about our feelings, there are those who turn away. Conversation is everyman’s puzzle which doesn’t make sense because we come into this life with vocal chords. Deciding what, when, where, to whom, indeed, whether, to reveal our feelings, is a conundrum. Safer to say nothing. People with mental sickness survive in a fake life. That faking is hard work; eventually it can be overwhelming. We fear to tread into an unknown and different world, a world in which we are uncomfortable, afraid to open up things that could be hurtful, to re-visit old wounds, to say the wrong thing. Safer to say nothing. It is even more uncomfortable and incomprehensible to the few fortunate enough to pass through life untouched by association with mental illness. Thus those with mental illness remain alone, yearning to talk, to know somebody cares, always seeking love, inclusion, connection to groups, a place of acceptance. Like the new born twins, without touch, they will not survive. The word “stigma” is overused in social media, in the classroom. As with war and poverty, when words are bandied about, the tendency is to become desensitized. Reclassify it as humanity, caring, compassion, love or just plain concern. Those consumed with self who do not pause to listen to the words of others are not holding conversation. Conversation does not exclude or ignore. Conversation is not anecdotes, incidences, disconnected fragments and monologues. Conversation is eye-to-eye, listening, hearing, responding with focus, interest, inquiry and feeling. The old joke says it all. “How are you today?” “I’m feeling suicidal”. “Oh wonderful, give my regards to your wife”. To have real conversation, we must connect the fragments to the whole, listen attentively and respond meaningfully. Conversation is always a two-way process, back and forth. Takes a little effort, though! Please feel free to share this.

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February 1st, 2016

For my little sister.

The waves of sadness that crash over me so suddenly I don’t know what’s hit me. I look at my life…my children, my husband, all that I have and wish that Lizzy could have experienced even a piece of that. It’s all she wanted, love and acceptance, a family of her own. I pray for my little sister every night. I pray that she is no longer hurting and like my brother Nick said, ” is running free, shedding the shackles of this world, boundless in her joy and wonder.”

My little sister was a beautiful human being, kind and sweet. The world was a better place with her in it and now it is left to us to pick up the pieces.

Mental illness effects all of us either directly or indirectly, please recognize those that need your help, reserve judgement and make a difference.

Your loving sister

KAREN 

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February 1st, 2016

Reflections on my sister Elizabeth.

So much can change, so suddenly, but so little is noticed. Almost no one knows. What is meaning in the midst of this? Everything is different but the world just keeps turning and somehow almost everything is the same, though so profoundly different for a scant few that it is jarring in its contrast. It’s like everything has happened but nothing has happened. Being and non-being. One moment and then the next – all is altered and cannot be reversed, yet (almost) all is the same. How are these states reconciled? We are all three years older and there are still more questions than answers.

For now, I hold you in my mind, as you were as a child, young and carefree. I hope you are running free now, shedding the shackles of this world, boundless in your joy and wonder

Your loving brother

NICHOLAS 

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February 1st, 2016

3 years ago today we lost a beautiful spirit at BCSS Victoria. We still miss you in our humble circle. You taught us so much before and after you left us. We miss your laughter and good humour. Elizabeth Bogod we are thinking of you, your family and friends. xo

HAZEL MEREDITH

____________________________________________________

February 1st, 2016

To my former room-mate Elizabeth Bogod !! You were a lovely lady, full of wonder and love. You were always looking for love and approval, and somehow you couldn’t seem to find it. You were a very dear friend, and you had so many wonderful qualities about you…always giving and always loving… I miss you and will always love you !! I pray you are at peace as well…until we meet again my friend !!!

CHARLENE HEBDON

___________________________________________________

UPDATE:   Sunday, 1st February 2015, the second anniversary of Elizabeth’s death.

Elizabeth’s parents went to Ucluelet, a 5-hour drive from Victoria up Vancouver Island. Ucluelet is a small logging country town on the North Pacific Coast. January to March, it is renown for its crashing, rolling waves and the surf-boarders who challenge its ocean.

TofinoIt was an opportunity to mourn, to think, to remember, as they walked the sandy beaches and the trails of old, large and high fir trees. They lit a Memorial Candle which burned for 24 hours. The light is out again, Elizabeth, but your light lives in every-bodies’ hearts.

Family news is that Nicholas and Carolin have a six month year old baby girl, Kate, and due this Thursday coming, your sister, Karen is expected to deliver a baby girl as yet unnamed. We all recall how good you were with kids, how you would paint with them, read your poetry to them, particularly the video story “The Tree”.

Your cousins in Los Angeles are remembering their son, Jack, who passed away just a day or so before you but two years before. He was 21. Below is a rather beautiful poem his father, Keith, wrote:-

Things happen
A tree falls
And something beloved
Is gone forever.
A darkness begins.
The absence of light is so complete,
we despair of ever seeing again.
At first,
we just stand blinking into the darkness.
It takes a minute before we realize
We are alive
And still breathing.
There is a certain dreadful calm in that darkness.
We are safe.
We want to stay there forever.
We reach out to explore the dark, and
If we are lucky,
We find a chair and are able to sit down.
If we are very lucky, we feel a hand and clasp it.
We are surprised; we were sure we were alone.
But that hand leads us to another,
And then to another,
And another.
And with that clasping of hands, we can see
At the edge of a horizon we thought was gone forever,
The faintest
First glimmer of dawn.

_________________________________________________

UPDATE:   Saturday, February 1st, 2014 was the first anniversary of Elizabeth’s death.  We lit a Memorial Candle and talked about her – all the sad and so many good things. We all miss her so much and the pain is with us all.  It is disturbing to think she is not here with us in 2014.  

CandleOn Sunday, February 2nd 2014 with a group of Elizabeth’s close friends, we attended church service.  The sermon, though in no way planned for the event, was coincidentally very insightful: “bad things can just happen – no blame to either God or person”. After Church, as a group, we went to brunch.

Elizabeth, so many things have happened since you left us, changes that might have helped to make a difference.  We will never know.  This comes with all our love, Mom, Dad, Nicholas and  Carolin.  You are forever in our hearts.  In Toronto, Karen and Tim had a “sharing circle”with Stori, Tatum and Lucie who each played the piano, lit a Memorial Candle, and sent their love.

 

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