Light at the end of the Tunnel living with mental illness

A single mom living with two teenage girls, Sherry Favreau and her girls began noticing

changes in Sherry’s behavior. She was living in the dark, all the curtains and blinds shut tight. She believed she was being followed and that her house was bugged. “I tore my home apart, trying to find the bugs,” Sherry explained, “I believed that the licence plates on cars were sending me messages.” Sherry’s girls were frightened and worried about their mom.

“Our dog got sick and vomited, I believed someone had poisoned him. I believed that my

cigarettes were drugged.” Sherry explained, “I kept going back and forth to the police

department begging them to help me. At first, they believed me and sent a sample of the dog’s vomit and cigarettes away for testing. Of course, the results came back negative.”

“One morning I got up and thought I had been drugged and raped, I thought my hair had been cut. I went to the doctor several times for blood tests, believing they would find drugs in my system. None were ever found.”

Over a period of four years Sherry lived in a constant state of fear, but continued to work as a special care aid. This being the only normalcy in her life. Sherry knew that something was wrong with her and tried to seek help through various avenues. “Nobody would listen,” Sherry said, “I even went to my MLA, showed him everything I had written down. He referred me to a church.” Sherry believed that she was part of a conspiracy theory of sorts, even the radio was sending messages. “I would just turn it off, I knew enough to at least do that.”

“I went to a church one night after much frustration and gave my information to the

pastor. In turn he went to the police. After meeting with him again, he yelled at me and told me that I was ill and needed help.” After so many futile attempts to seek help for

what seemed a dire situation, Sherry called Women Helping Women, a public health organization working to prevent gender based violence. WHW arranged for Sherry to see a doctor and subsequently she spent two weeks in the psychiatric ward of the hospital.

Twenty three years ago Sherry was diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia, a mental illness in which your mind doesn’t agree with reality. It affects how you think and behave, and is rooted mainly in delusions of fear, anxiety and prosecution. Much has been learned about this illness over the years, and with medication Sherry has overcome and is thriving despite the illness. “I am on medication and doing well now,”

she said,” I have a great family life and a wonderful social circle.”

After spending thirty-five years as a Special Care Aid, Sherry is now retired and spends her time volunteering with Canadian Mental Health and the Schizophrenic Society. She shares her story at schools, colleges, and conferences in attempt to create awareness and empowerment for others living with mental illness. She is grateful everyday for the healthy life she now leads.

Sherry has released a book titled “My Journey with Mental Illness.”

A memoir of stories and poems detailing her incredible journey.

A New Beginning

by: Sherry Favreau

A moment of sadness, you were there

and now your gone, a new beginning

and the sun has shone

The chemical imbalance in my brain

Was what caused all the pain

A new beginning, like a breath

Of fresh air, after all that despair

A zest for life, every taste, every smell

Seeing everything like it was new,

As before it cut like a knife

A new beginning, I am living with

mental illness with gratitude

I am blessed with a healthy life again.

I accept the things I cannot change,

I believe this creates a new beginning.

I believe this to be true