Donna’s life has been full of challenges. From a young age, her teachers noticed that she was struggling with depression and had been exposed to abuse in her family home. Her relationships continued through cycles of abuse, despite her best efforts to break free from them. As the years went on, Donna was diagnosed with depression, ADHD and bipolar disorder, and turned to drugs to help her cope. She had been admitted to the hospital and received treatment through doctors and professionals. Despite the medical intervention, her battle with depression made it hard for her to leave her home. Sometimes, she would spend up to 3 weeks without leaving her house – until she was referred to a peer to peer drop in center, funded by United Way Oxford.
“Coming to the drop in support group changed me. The place became my community and the people became like family – everyone was so welcoming and they made me feel comfortable. Depressed people have a hard time getting out of the house. If I didn’t find Oxford Self Help, I would probably still be isolated, not leaving my home. It gave me a safe place to go where I felt understood and less alone.”
Donna made incredible strides working through her mental health struggles once she felt supported. She started volunteering with Oxford Self-Help Drop in Centre and eventually gained part time employment with the program. She now has the chance to help others and have an impact on the lives of people who are struggling in ways that she once was. Her positive outlook and willingness to help has given her the chance to give back to her community and show her appreciation for the support she has received. Her advice to others is to “have compassion when you see people out there who are facing problems. Offer a few nice words and a smile instead of turning a blind eye. By making someone smile, maybe they will make someone else smile. When people are smiling, life gets better.” Donna is showing her local love and helping tackle “UNIGNORABLE issues by sharing her story. She is reducing the stigma surrounding mental illness and addiction and providing comfort and hope for those living in uncertainty.
United Way Oxford invests in accessible, timely programs that support mental health and reduce/address addictions, while creating welcoming spaces for people in our community. They work to empower people to have a voice, so they can live their life to the fullest potential. The strength of Oxford County is in the well-being of the people who live here. With your support, let’s work together to create a vibrant community where everyone experiences a sense of belonging and connection to one another.