Mental Illness – My work – My journey

Mental Illness
Mental Illness – My work – My journey
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Nolan A Machan

Nolan A Machan

Nolan Machan is the Publisher of OakvilleNews.Org and has over 41 years of local Oakville knowledge. He is committed to providing Oakville residents with the most up-to-date information about our great town.

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For the past 25 years, I’ve been living with mental illness. It started with panic attacks in my early 20’s and in my early thirties I had my first nervous breakdown. Mental illness often starts in the late teens or early adulthood. Dr. David Goldbloom corroborated this at a breakfast hosted by the Oakville Chamber of Commerce last week.

Dr. David S. Goldbloom is a professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto. He maintains an active clinical and teaching role at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health where he serves as Senior Medical Advisor.  His talk was both informative as well as entertaining.

Often young people are not diagnosed. Caregivers believe that the symptoms will go away with maturity. This isn’t a reality. When my symptoms first started, I was told to exercise. It didn’t work.

Mental illness often is not cured with a magic pill. My illness will last my lifetime. Most of the time, it doesn’t affect how I live my life. I have been working continuously. There have been times, when I’ve needed to take time off. My specialist is a psychiatrist. My specialist is no different then a cardiologist. Last year was one of my most difficult, but with a psychiatrist, therapist, support group and a loving family, 2018 is looking much easier.

However, like most people with a mental illness I faced stigma. I will never forget when a boss said, “just shake it off.” That comment has stuck with me for many years.

Luckily, Bell’s Let’s Talk campaign has made it easier to talk about my illness. Three months ago I decided not to hide my illness. When asked how I am doing, I am honest. The majority of people have responded with warmth and kindness. Unfortunately, not everyone is as fortunate.

Many people I talked with have never discussed mental illness, even those who have family and friends with mental illness. It is important for families to reach out to other families who have the same experience. Being with other people who understand what you are going through provides a sense of belonging. A great local family resource group is Equilibrium-Oakville.

A few of the people I spoke with were living with a mental illness, but were not diagnosed. They were living in isolation, often thinking they were the only one suffering. They were relieved to have another person to speak with about mental illness.

One in five Canadians experiences a mental illness every year. It costs the Canadian economy $51 billion every year. Every year, over 3,800 suicides can be attributed to mental illness. It is the second highest killer of young people, just below motor vehicle accidents. Even though mental illness is a terribly invasive, our knowledge is limited. This is not helped by the underfunding of research and programs.


There are some organizations serving our community most of which are funded in part by the United Way Halton & Hamilton. In 2017, the United Way Halton & Hamilton invested $1,477,954 into local Community Counseling and Mental Health programming.

A list of successful people who had a mental illnes include:

  1. Abraham Lincoln
  2. Winston Churchill
  3. Martin Luther King, JR

A current list of successful individuals who are living with mental illness:

  1. Prince Harry
  2. Emma Stone
  3. Terry Bradshaw
  4. Lady Gaga

Local Mental Health Resources:

  1. One Link
  2. Distress Halton
  3. ROCK – for children and teenagers
  4. COAST
  5. TEACH – support groups
  7. CAMH – Oakville
  8. OTMH – Psychiatric Department

Mental illness is like any other illness such as Diabetes or Cancer. For some it can be cured, and for others it needs to be managed. What people need who are afflicted with a mental illness is understanding and care.

Dr. Goldbloom made an observation about how society still views Mental Illness. He commented there are often cards, and flowers in the rooms of hospital patients. Unfortunately, when you enter the room of a psychiatric patient there are no cards or flowers.

As a community, Let’s Talk.

Bell Let’s Talk campaign is January 31, 2018 – please participate.



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Readers Comments (5)

  1. Eileen Beltzner says:

    So much stigma and shame has been carried by people, both male and female having been the recipients of sexual boundary violations and assaults. The #MeToo movement has opened the topic up and courageous people have come forward to tell their humiliating and painful experiences. By doing so, they have exposed their hearts to what can sometimes be a cruel and negative public backlash. Fortunately, the overwhelming number of people who have come forward with their stories has shown sexual boundary violations and sexual assault is more the norm than the exception.
    Nolan is one of my best friends. He would never say he is brave but I will. The Let’s Talk is an important beginning but it is not enough! Thanks Nolan for this article. Mental illness needs something like the #MeToo movement to happen. More people need to come forward with their stories about how they too have been shamed and stigmatized and ultimately silenced by all sectors of society both public and private and how long wait lists are for treatment.That way we may be able to keep the topic the news cycles and start a movement to increase monies available to be directed towards research, evidenced based treatment methods and direct service dollars for those in need.

  2. Jason Smith says:

    We all get through it all together. With a little help from friends, present and yet absent. Remember Bob Snowden and “the world is too much with us”.

  3. Richard M Landau says:

    Keep going, Nolan! I admire your resilience and courage.

    – RL

  4. Sybil Eade says:

    I am interested in this issue and applaud you for carrying on. There is bi-polar in my family and at times is extremely difficult to cope.

  5. Yvonne Little says:

    Thank you Nolan for sharing this beautiful letter and your story. It touched me to my soul. So many people suffer in silence. I am going to share you article, it will only help others. See you around the Village!

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