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Meet our Stigma-Free Scholarship Winner Megan!

“I really had to grieve my changed sense of identity when I was diagnosed, at first, because I took it hard.”

These were Megan’s thoughts as she remembered the moment she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder two years ago. Megan struggled with a lot of self-stigma and biases that had come from what she had seen in the media. It was a huge transitional moment.

We, at the Stigma-Free Society are so proud of Megan for all she has overcome and we are extremely excited to announce her as one of our scholarship winners for post-secondary education offered in partnership with the Otsuka Lundbeck Alliance!

Megan plans to put her scholarship money towards her education as she is currently enrolled in the Post-Degree Diploma in Accounting at Camosun College. She aspires to become a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA).

Throughout her undergraduate years, Megan excelled in her Math degree and was invited to fly across the country to present her research where she earned many accolades and was told her presentation was a favorite of the day.

We feel that this is an incredible achievement, particularly because this was during the time of Megan’s mental illness diagnosis.

About two years ago, Megan was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder Type I and faced a lot of stigma. Not only was Megan struggling with her own transition, but she realized that she was being treated differently by her community and even her close friends. This caused her to feel isolated during her undergraduate education.

She was able to find acceptance and compassion through her support group – one that she was recently able to reconnect with due to transitioning online this year.

Megan’s lived experience with bipolar has taught her to extend more acceptance, compassion, and kindness to others.

A big source of inspiration for Megan is her mother. She states that her mother is a life-long learner – something that has been passed onto her. In addition, her mother has always been encouraging and has been a huge source of support for her.

Given all that she has experienced, what advice would Megan give to her younger self and to others?

“Put yourself out there more”.

By putting herself out there, Megan has had so many opportunities that were previously stifled by negative self-talk. Megan’s message to others is: Be kind and do not judge others. We do not know what the people around us may be experiencing and the impact our words may have on them.

Congratulations on your scholarship and good luck Megan!

Author, Raman Daliwal, Stigma-Free Intern, Adler University

 

From Battling Lifelong Stigmas to Scholarship Award Winner – Meet Juls

We are incredibly proud to introduce you to Juls Budau, winner of the Stigma-Free Society – Otsuka Lundbeck Alliance Scholarship. Registered in the Masters in Social Work program at the Northern University of British Columbia, Juls will use this scholarship money to pay for her tuition, something she wasn’t sure how she was going to cover before she won the scholarship. These scholarships are awarded to inspirational individuals who are working towards ending stigmas and encouraging change in the field of mental health.

Juls’ Story:

Since 16, Juls has fought against a variety of stigmas, including living in poverty, mental illness, drug use, self-harming and sexual abuse. After being diagnosed with ADHD at age 31 and self-medicating for years, Juls battled the stigmas around mental illness and drug use. Years after diagnosis, she has finally received the support, education and guidance she needed to be able to successfully dive into her graduate work.

Now 36, Juls has set her sights on helping change health care policy. Hoping that her research on how cycles of perpetuating criminalization and stigmatization affect attitudes of the public, service providers and drug users themselves regarding the overdose crisis will help health care providers create a pocket of openness of safety for stigmatized individuals.

A message from Juls:

When asked what message she would like to give others she said,

“If you feel like your being stigmatized, remember to look at the person doing the stigmatizing – you need to find the right people to have in your life and those that stigmatize you are not your people”.

Living with and battling the numerous stigmas she’s faced in her life, Juls happily announces that she has learned that she is strong and smart – and that a lot of the opinions and negative attitudes she faced had to do with greater systems and economic control. Now, by further educating herself in the area of social work, we’re sure she will make a positive impact and create the change she is hoping to create.

Congratulations on your scholarship, Juls. We cannot wait to see the great work we know you’re going to do in the area of stigmatization. We are beyond proud to announce you as one of our scholarship winners. Good luck to you!

Thank you to Otsuka-Lundbeck Alliance for their generous sponsorship in funding the Stigma-Free Society’s Stigma-Free Scholarships.

Author, Lindsay Goulet – Community Development Manager, SFS