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The Bits and Pieces of a Hoarder

April 11, 2012 by  
Filed under Special Features

HoarderAt a Second Cup on the corner of King West and John streets, Carol* sits across from me at a back table in a black blazer and white blouse, her dark jeans pulling the look together in a smart-casual sort of way. She’s somewhat tentative, looking down before making eye contact, sipping on the chilled green tea before her while carefully revealing pieces of a story that many are too ashamed to tell. She flips her cellphone intermittingly, taking a call, checking the time, not wanting to be away too long from the design firm where she works as an interior designer with a penchant for simple spaces. And yet herein lies the disparity: this shipshape woman – blond hair bordering flushed cheeks and an emerald gaze, lined precisely with eyeliner, framed with dainty eyeglasses – can’t do for herself what she does for others. Her home instead is a blueprint for an underground psychopathological design: Read more

Alzheimer’s Disease

February 10, 2011 by  
Filed under Health

AlzheimersEvery once in a while, our minds dip into the past, sifting through the vast files of our temporal lobes for the memories and moments that shaped our early days. When I think of my grandmother, I think of a hot summer afternoon, the air so thick the kitchen walls seemed to melt onto the linoleum floor. I remember the crackling noise eggs make in a frying pan, the red of ripe tomatoes perspiring against fresh basil. She stared emptily at the vacant wall before her, glancing at her plate and eating reflexively, her tight white curls matted to her head. Midday came and went. Rimmed red, her glistening green eyes pleaded for help. A flurry of words escaped her mouth, her arms flailed about. She had not eaten, she said, she was left to starve. I didn’t know then not to feel a ripple of burning hurt freezing my insides. I didn’t know then that the woman who stood before me was dying while living, her brain being ravaged by synaptic failure. All I knew was that a strong woman who had borne Read more

Depression: Defeating the Mental Illness Stigma

October 14, 2010 by  
Filed under Health, Special Features

DepressionIn 2008, Dr. David Goldbloom, one of Canada’s leading expert psychiatrists, began a speech with an excerpt written by a young man in 1841: “I am now the most miserable man living. If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would be not one cheerful face on Earth. Whether I shall ever be better, I cannot tell. I awfully forebode I shall not. To remain as I am is impossible. I must die or be better, it appears to me.” The young man who wrote these words was Abraham Lincoln, who later led his nation successfully through the American Civil War.

Broadcasting hope of recovery to the thousands of Canadians coping with mental illness, this gripping account mimics some of the symptoms of depression. “One of my darkest days is when I attempted suicide in 2004,” says Richard Braudo, who has suffered from familial major depressive disorder since he Read more