Last night I had the great honour of attending The Connection Project. It was a truly inspiring evening. As a mental health advocate and public speaker myself, hearing the stories told on that stage made me feel like I had found my people.
My Peer Support colleague from work, Natalie Senik, was one of the speakers. The bits of her story that she shared were so impactful for me to hear. I like hearing stories of other people’s psychoses. It is such a fascinating ailment to me… The moments she shared of the delusions gifting signs, hope, light, and faith, but also acknowledging the danger of it all, hit me deeply.
Bits of another speaker named Madelaine McCallum’s story also resonated with me. A most gorgeous woman who has trouble seeing that in herself. I understood that and I understood bits of her journey with experiencing homelessness and using sex for survival. She did a jingle dance at the end which with her movements, the sounds of her dress, and the music she flowed to induced a hypnotic vibration. I left the theatre during last night’s full moon feeling recharged with new hope beating in my heart.
A couple men spoke, both had jail time as being a part of their journeys. I think both their stories could be very helpful and inspiring to other men. I truly feel there needs to be more mental health supports for men, as it’s very cultural here in Canada for men to not be vulnerable and to mask any emotion besides anger. One of them has left the gang life and has made something greater of himself. I thought of someone I’m keeping in my prayers right now when I heard both men’s stories.
I think all of the stories shared were needed. I was bathed and cleansed in each speaker’s vulnerability and honesty. I will be marinating in these stories for a long time to come.
It was wonderful to see my friend, Emily Olsen, creator of this amazing event, last night too as well as other familiar faces. I left feeling a sense of WOW. Well done to all of you!
Photo from The Connection Project of this year's (2023) speakers.