Meet Judith Vosko – One of MDABC’s Wonderful Volunteers

judith

How did you come to be a volunteer at the MDABC?

I heard Dr. Remick interviewed on CBC Radio, and I wanted to contribute to an organization that was working to improve people’s mental health.

What kind of volunteer work have you done at MDABC?

I have been a Greeter at the psychiatric office.

What do you find most rewarding about doing this work?

I enjoy helping new patients, who often arrive with questions and uncertainty about what to expect from their first appointment. I also get positive feedback from answering questions, often over the phone, about how to get help from MDABC.

What kind of programs would you like to see offered in the future?

In the past there were some workshops such as horticulture therapy and making a sanctuary that were popular. It would be great to offer some of them again since we have so many new people.

What are three things that you do to feel happy and well?

I go Nordic Walking, visit local farmer’s markets and read mystery novels.

 

 

Gratitude Meditation

On Tuesday, May 10th the MDABC hosted a training event for our volunteers and staff in which we explored the ways in which we would like to grow as an organization and how we can all contribute to our organization’s mission. We had a lot of spirited discussion as we attempted to reach a better understanding of how to work together towards our common goals.   We ended our session with a gratitude meditation which we’d like to share with all of you.

Gratitude Meditation

hands

Get into a relaxed seated posture. Bring your hands together to form a bowl and close your eyes. Take a few deep, calming breaths to relax and centre. Slowly, take three deep breaths and repeat the words “For this day, I am grateful.”

  1. Next, bring to mind those people in your life to whom you are close: your friends, neighbors, family, coworkers…. Repeat the words, “For the people that I share my life with, I am grateful.”
  1. Next, turn your attention to yourself: you are a unique individual, and you possess imagination, the ability to communicate, the ability to learn from the past and plan for the future, and the ability to overcome any pain you may be experiencing. Repeat the words, “For all of my abilities, I am grateful.”
  1. Finally, think about something that you saw or felt today that made you smile. It could be as small a thing as seeing a child laugh or the feeling of a soft breeze on your skin. Repeat the words, “For being able to see the ordinary as beautiful, I am grateful.”

Continue to focus on your breath as you take 3 more deep breaths. Open your eyes and look into the bowl that you have made with your hands. Realize that your bowl is full of all the things that you have expressed your gratitude for. When you are ready, release your hands and prepare to meet the rest of your day with a renewed sense of wellbeing.

 

Meet Jake Palmour – One of MDABC’s Wonderful Volunteers

jake p

How did you come to be a volunteer at the MDABC?

A dear friend of mine had been volunteering at the MDABC. Her positive experiences there inspired me to connect with the staff and management at the MDABC.

What kind of volunteer work have you done at MDABC?

I volunteer once a week as a Greeter in the Robson Psychiatric Clinic. 

What do you find most rewarding about doing this work?

I really cherish the opportunity to welcome new clients to the practice in a warm and empathic manner. It is also really rewarding to witness the positive transformation that clients undergo as a result of the various therapies that are offered by the MDABC.

What kind of programs would you like to see offered in the future?

I am really excited about the MDABC’s proactive and inclusive approach to Youth who experience various mood disorders. More robust Youth programming would be beneficial.  I also appreciate some Psychiatrists’ use of therapies that do not involve pharmaceutical intervention.

What are three things that you need to feel happy and well?

Self-care is integral to my continued well-being. I am an avid cyclist and skateboarder; I also LOVE coffee.

 

MDABC Board Member Jon McComb Receives GG Award

In a ceremony that took place at the Chan Centre in Vancouver on March 4,2016, MDABC Board of Directors member Jon McComb was presented with the Governor-General’s Caring Canadian Award.

Created in 1995, the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award recognizes living Canadians and permanent residents who have made a significant, sustained, unpaid contribution to their community, in Canada or abroad.

Jon was nominated for the award for his volunteer efforts over many years to increase mental illness awareness and help reduce the stigma associated with mental health problems. Jon McComb has been a talk-show host on CKNW  Radio for more than 30 years  and consistently offers his listeners respectful, smart and passionate opinions.

The MDABC would like to congratulate Jon McComb on his award and wish him continued success in all of  his endeavors.

Visit to Vancouver

 

Meet Lisa Kleiman – One of MDABC’s Wonderful Volunteers

lisa k (1)

How did you come to be a volunteer at the MDABC?

I was facilitating a group at the MDABC office when two members of the staff announced that they were putting together an Information Bureau. It is for volunteers who go and set up a booth of information and education about mental illness and let the community know about all the work that the Mood Disorders Association of BC is doing.

What kind of volunteer work have you done at MDABC?

I have been facilitating support groups since 2012. I am one of the facilitators of the Jewish Support group.

What do you find most rewarding about doing this work?

I love facilitating; being a member of a support group is a big part of my wellness. I have met the most incredible people. To be able to facilitate a group makes me feel so privileged. I also love going to events around the city as part of the Information Bureau because it is so much fun. You get to talk to people that may be asking questions about mental illness for the first time. Just to listen to them and tell them that there are lots of resources in the community is an amazing feeling. I feel so proud to tell them about the Mood Disorders Association as finding MDABC changed my life.

What kind of programs would you like to see offered in the future?

I would love to see a support group for high school students offered in the future. MDA has a support group for young adults 19 years old to 30. I would like to see one for young people under 19 years old. When we go into the schools to bring information, I would love to say that there is a support group for them.

What are three things that you do to feel happy and well?

I love having coffee with friends, relaxing and watching Netflix.  I also love to walk with my music blaring to shake off the day and to look after myself.

Highlights of the 2015 MDABC Holiday Volunteer Appreciation Party

20151214_145727

 

The MDABC hosted our annual Volunteer Appreciation Party on December 14th at The Counselling and Wellness Centre. Our guests enjoyed a buffet of treats, a craft room, some holiday-themed games and some enthusiastic (if a little bit off-tune) Christmas caroling. Check out the photos!

holiday party

20151214_145629

Winter 2016 Program Guide is Ready!

winter | treesThe MDABC’s winter program guide came out last week and it offers a variety of group therapy courses for people who are facing mental health challenges at this time in their lives. We have brought back our most popular courses including groups for Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Depression, and Social Anxiety. People can choose from a variety of therapeutic approaches to treatment including art-based therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and mindfulness-based therapy.

In addition to returning courses, the therapy team at MDABC has also developed a number of new courses which we are very excited about.  These include intensive weekend skill-building seminars for depression and/or anxiety and a course designed specifically for younger adults on emotional regulation.

Get started on feeling better today -check out our Winter 2016 Therapy Groups here.

Meet Nan Dickie-One of MDABC’s Wonderful Volunteers

nan dickie

How did you come to be a volunteer at the MDABC?

In 1994 I started writing short stories, articles and essays for the MDA newsletter that came out every two months. I continued writing for the newsletter for six years.

In 2010, I became an MDA group facilitator in Salmon Arm. I am continuing with this volunteer work.

What kind of volunteer work have you done at MDABC?

I have been associated with the MDA since the early 90s when I lived in Vancouver. My first involvement was writing 1,000 word stories and articles for the newsletter which was published 6 times a year, and mailed out to members. (Email didn’t yet exist.) When I dropped the envelope containing an article in the box for the first time, I had the horrible feeling of having “exposed” myself. Quickly I knew it was for the greater good and I committed myself to writing stories and articles for each newsletter from then on.

After about five years of writing these articles (which now totaled 30), many people said, “You should make this into a book.” Easy to say, a huge challenge to do! However, I did it. In 2001, my book A Map for the Journey: Living Meaningfully with Recurring Depression was published. It contains over 40 articles and stories relevant to all of us and our supporters. The MDA held a book launch for me, and arranged a radio interview. I have written several articles for the MDA since that time.

I moved to Salmon Arm in 2007. In late 2011, as I was healing from a year-long episode of clinical depression, Garry Hall and I decided to start a depression, bi-polar and anxiety support group in this community. This group has been flourishing since then. Garry retired from being a facilitator about a year ago.

What do you find most rewarding about doing this work?

Writing for the MDA, starting 20 years ago, was a gigantic step for me to take. By writing about my (and our) conditions, I learned so much more about how we live with these disorders when we are ill and when we are well, how much courage we require to navigate our episodes. I received countless insights through writing that inspired me to write more and more. I also recognized how difficult stigma is for us, and how challenging it is for friends and loved ones to support us in a loving and wise manner.

Being a facilitator has been – and continues to be – very rewarding. I have  met over 50 individuals who share our disorders at our bi-weekly meetings. I love inviting brave new participants to the group, and helping them to feel comfortable in this new setting. I am moved by the stories (experiences, challenges, pain and joy) of all the participants, and their resilience in healing.

Our motto is, “We’d rather share with strangers who understand, than with friends who don’t.” We have all become special friends with each other, a special extended “family.”

The greatest reward of being a facilitator is how my life has been deepened and enhanced by the enthusiastic participation of a broad spectrum of courageous individuals.

What kind of programs would you like to see offered in the future?

The MDA provides a wide range of excellent programs and services to people living in the Lower Mainland that are not available to those of us in the interior of BC. I’m unsure of what programs would be valuable administered from afar. We do find the web-site informative and inspiring.

What are three things that you do to feel happy and well?

Each of us can have a large tool kit of things that can help us a great deal to attain and maintain good mental health when we are in remission. Many of these tools are invaluable when we are ill. My tool kit contains many “items” that yours does too: good eating and sleeping habits, support from family, friends and my support group, a good relationship with my doctor and psychiatrist, and so on. In addition to these (and other) things that keep me as mentally healthy as possible, I keep my body fit with road cycling, cross-country skiing and swimming. These activities are also conducive to mental calmness – and that great plus – a rush of endorphins! Spiritual life is very important to me and sustains me critically through my tough episodes and nurtures me when I am well.

Meet Caer Weber – One of MDABC’s Wonderful Volunteers

                       caer

How did you come to be a volunteer at the MDABC?

I started to attend one of the support groups in 2009 though I wasn’t sure I liked it at first. Too scary. All those strangers! But after a couple of times I started to like it. Then I started to think that I would really love to facilitate a group. I had done some facilitating before and really loved it. So by 2010 I was facilitating a support group weekly and just loving it. I continued to do it until 2014.

What kind of volunteer work have you done at MDABC?

Last year I decided I wanted to change what I was doing with MDABC a bit. So I came up with a proposal. I offered to be a facilitator liaison. Essentially I would help train other facilitators – now that I had 4 years under my belt – to help Catherine St. Denis, Operations Manager, in her role of connecting all of the facilitators with the organization itself. To help be that bridge. I knew Catherine had more than a full plate. I think everyone does at MDABC. That’s why they need volunteers. Anyway, I started doing that last year.

I also started to think a lot about self-care and came up with another proposal. To run an 8-week closed group focusing on self-care. I ended up doing that in the spring earlier this year After that group MDABC asked me to run some half-day workshops on self-care. So I ran three of those workshops.

I continue to be facilitator liaison, and it’s quite a bit of work and quite challenging. I am also about to do 2 more half-day workshops on self-care and especially on self-compassion. I hope to do a lot more of those and maybe add-ons to them.

What do you find most rewarding about doing this work?

First, and possibly the most important thing is that just working with the staff at MDABC has been one of the most rewarding things about this work. They have given me a lot of space to run with my ideas and I’ve never had such a great and supportive environment to work in. I am so grateful for them.

I also find that I keep trying to make the things that I do better. I keep looking at them and saying “Am I satisfied with this or do I need to change something?” It feels like a very creative process. And when I do the facilitator training and meet the new facilitators it’s invigorating and inspiring to meet all these people who really want to help. When I do my self-care workshops I learn so much from what people tell me about their struggles. I get to know what the common themes are especially with people with mental illness.

It’s all absolutely fascinating and such a learning experience for me. A real gift.

What kind of programs would you like to see offered in the future?

I’d like to see a real campaign started that focuses on self-care, self-compassion and mindfulness. Some of those things have already begun. I would like to see us keep building on that theme. I have just begun using these things in my life and I’m amazed at how much better and how much more alive I feel. I really hope people have a way to learn that they are alright just as they are and none of us need to suffer quite so much if we are kinder to ourselves and are more present in the world. A waking up to self.

What are three things that you do to feel happy and well?

Right now I need my 30 minutes of meditation before bed. I have not been able to keep a meditation practice for this long before (8 ½ months) and I am noticing huge changes in my life. I am slowing down, am more grounded, and much softer and more compassionate towards myself and to others. And when I really blow it and get really upset about something I am now turning to mindfulness to help me find my center again.

So I think 1. meditation, 2. self-compassion and 3. ice cream or chocolate at least once a week. Oh yah and to be mindful through it all. Especially when eating the ice cream or chocolate.