• Reaching Families Project

    Online Support for People Who Care About Someone with a Mental Illness

You are welcome here!

This forum is specifically for LGTBQ community members supporting a partner or friend who has a mental illness and is facilitated by a community member.

Moderator: AndrewBCSS

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You are welcome here!

Unread postby AndrewBCSS » 07 Sep 2007

Hi there,
As moderator of this forum, I welcome you here. I know as queer/lesbian/bi/gay/trans people we are not always used to feeling welcome, so I hope you will feel the welcome here and extend it to others here.

I'm a lesbian, and a good friend of several people with mental illnesses. I treat my good friends as family, and help them out when they need it, the way family does. Recently I came out to one of my employers, the BC Schizophrenia Society, and took responsibilty for creating this LGTB family group as part of a project I'm working on to reach out to family members of persons with a mental illness.

When I came out at our staff meeting earlier this year, several of the people in the room already knew I am lesbian, but since staff come to the meeting from all over BC, there were a lot of people there who didn't know me. Some of them are from northern BC, and well, let's just say I was a little nervous. I described it to them in terms of being doubly affected by discrimination to them and they got it immediately.

Family members of people with schizophrenia and other mental illnesses know what it's like to be judged by others, and they immediately got why the families of choice that queer people have need the same supports that BCSS has always extended to relatives of people with all kinds of mental illnesses.

I know this is just an online group. If you need a live person to talk to, BCSS and the regional coordinators are available around the province to talk to you and help you find the services you and your loved one need. Their contact info has been posted in this forum. As far as I know, none of them are LGTB. However, I truly believe all of them 'get' that our kinds of families are important, will consider you as fully a family member as anyone else and will do their best to help.

There are services as spouses, relatives and caregivers of loved ones with mental illnesses that are available to you. Respite - a break from caregiving - is available in some places along with support groups, information groups and referrals from the coordinators. They're for our kinds of familes too. I don't expect any homophobia, but if you run into any, let me know and I'll help out.

Sophia Kelly

Reaching Families Project Coordinator
Support Forum moderator.
Andrew Stewart
Operations Manager
British Columbia Schizophrenia Society
A reason to hope. The means to cope.

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Re: You are welcome here!

Unread postby Cyne » 10 Mar 2010

Hi Sophia! This was a great post to read...precisely because of the isolation that comes with living with the effects of mental illness oneself or as a partner or friend. The homophobia aspect of things in my life is not an active conscious distress. Instead, it runs deep benath the surface and makes it very difficult to recognize when it does emerge. I am fortunate in having a partner who understands and has actively fought homophobia for many years. It can be more difficult to clearly identify the source of uneasiness or fear/anger or perceptual distortion when one is dealing with mental illness..what is inside and what is outside? Many times over the years I have found myself asking myself what is mine and what is my partner's? What is my family member's? My friend's? Perhaps this is one of the greatest challenges in living with mental illness in oneself and in other's...it is the thief that steals the self right in front of you...that often robs me of any sense of ease or welcome I have spent years developing. This is why this resource is so important...and your welcoming message to it. Often as family member's who try to support others or get pulled too far into their compelling view of reality, we can get lost in the isolation of our loved one's alienation and forget the simple skills of letting go or taking a break...a way of welcoming ourselves back into our own reality.

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