I am so grateful and honoured to be the 2015 Courage to Come Back Award Winner, a provincial award given by Coast Mental Health. I was chosen in the Mental Health Category recognizing my life’s challenges and coming back from the depths of my illness, and now helping others in their journey.
I attended the awards ceremony this week and it was a whirlwind of inspiration and stories of hope.
I wanted to share parts of my speech with you, and in a room filled with 1400 people, I felt as comfortable as reaching out to a classroom of youth.
I said the following…
“There are 2 people that I especially want to thank tonight and they are my parents, who are watching from their home right now. Dad, thank you for raising me on your own from when I was 8 till I was 16. I was a teen going through many of life’s challenges, but you kept your heart in the right place and you always loved me no matter the circumstance and I thank you deeply for this.
Thank you to my mother who was diagnosed w bipolar disorder when I was only 3. You faced challenges that many of us cannot even fathom. You are where I gain my true inspiration. There was an endless string of hospitals, breakdowns and an illness that tried to claim your life time and time again…BUT you NEVER gave up and always loved me unconditionally. Mom, you are the embodiment of true courage and I am only a mere reflection of you.
My mother is living proof that courage can take us through the darkest of places and she is the one I wish to give this award to tonight because she inspires me to share my story and do all the work I do as the Bipolar Babe in the mental health community.
It is up to all of us here in this room, and in this world, to come together to stomp out the stigma of mental illness and we CAN make this an accepting, understanding and empathetic world for all people. When our faith is shaken, it is courage and a belief is something more significant than our struggles that will bring us through and make any curse we endure, a gift to learn and grow from.
Lastly, I will say it time and time again and I will never stop saying it through my entire life- we all have to know in our hearts that “No matter what our challenges, we can all live extraordinary lives.”
Thanks to all of you for supporting and loving me, without you I would never be who I am, and where I am today.
To watch Andrea Paquette – Bipolar Babe's mini movie shown at the awards ceremony click here.
~Andrea AKA Bipolar Babe