Hi my name is Tom Dutta. Would it be ok with you if I went deep and personal for a bit?
I’ve been associated with MDABC for over 7 years and want you to know that I’m just an average guy who has a passion to “Make the world a better place through mental health wellness”.
I’d love it if everyone on the planet knew my true story so I’m sharing it through this blog, on my www.mdabc.net video (the “about” page) and everywhere I go. When I was young I experienced mental health issues all around me. My mom struggled with depression and anxiety and I grew up with a military father who struggled with alcohol addiction. My younger brother was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome in his teen years and I remember my uncle’s son was found hanging in a barn in the Fraser Valley. When I met my wife of 20 years now, Anna, I found more incredible stories of suicide and depression in her extended and immediate family and today in my professional career I see and meet people all the time who have a story about mental health wellness.
At an early age I found success in the corporate world. My dad was a teacher and blue collar worker and mom was a nurturer and protector….as an immigrant to Canada at age 3 I only knew how to work hard and help other people. Life was a puzzle for me and I usually put others needs ahead of my own so I built a career starting as a bank teller and worked to live and support my family. Thirty years later as I look back my career went from teller to CEO but there was always this dark side of me. Anna used to tell me how wonderful I was and remark on my successes but I couldn’t see or feel it myself.
I came to MDABC by accident but I think now that God sent me to this wonderful place to fulfill my life purpose of helping others like me. I joined the Board and learned quickly that MDA was an awesome place with people who were helping others. From the Peer Support groups to the CBT programs and now the rapid access clinics which are just a few examples of how I am seeing more and more people like me making the world a better place through mental health wellness.
I want you to know that I am also a user of the MDABC support services. You know in the corporate world where I work there can sometimes be a stigma around people who express their challenges with mental health wellness. I have never felt comfortable telling people about myself and feared retribution in my career. Like many I just worked day in and day out trying to hide the fact that I had this dark feeling and anxiety that appeared when I least expected it and the confusion I felt led me just to ignore it. I used to think that it was normal to feel that way until I came to MDA.
The education from being involved with MDA has changed my life. I have realized through meeting many of you that the world is full of Heroes and Heroines who tell their stories to help others. I didn’t know I could live a normal life and have support for my own fears and feelings. The MDA AGM is my favourite time of the year because after the business meeting I get to meet people like you who are in turn like me. Your willingness to share your personal stories is amazing. This is what keeps me going.
Life is a puzzle and for me it all seems to work when I am living life giving to others. As Board Chair I give by telling my story to others and asking them to support MDA. We are a not for profit as you know and I am always looking for people and businesses to contribute financially to ensure we continue to grow and serve our patrons. MDA is changing to keep up with the complex world of Mental Health Services and we have only one priority…that is you. Whether you come to our Peer Support Groups which are the roots of our organization or to see a Doctor as I did for an assessment and pathway to recovery, MDA is helping more people than ever. I appreciate very much the people who use our services, the volunteers, doctors and teams and our volunteer Board, that run the organization. I never forget that without all of you we wouldn’t exist.
Today I live a better life because of my MDA family. That is what you are to me and whether I have met you or not please know that you are in my heart and we are connected by a common purpose…to make the world a better place through mental health wellness. I have one ask of everyone associated with MDA and that is to love and care for each other and continue to support our organization as it changes and grows to help anyone who needs us. Feedback is a gift so be sure to share it with me anytime.