ANCOURA CAN CHANGE LIVES — THE STORY OF BRENDA JONES
When you sit down and talk to Brenda Jones you are talking to an enthusiastic and articulate young woman whose life is going pretty well right now. But this was not always the case.
Brenda, now 39, was born in a small town outside of Ottawa. She loved the outdoors, the animals and living in the country.
In her late teens, things started to become unglued. Her family life was shattered by the breakup of her parents. She moved to another town and lived in an apartment. When she was 21 she went through a very difficult time and attempted to take her own life. She was hospitalized and started taking medication to alleviate her condition, subsequently diagnosed as major depression.
Since her initial breakdown sixteen years ago, she has been hospitalized many times, often once or twice a year. She has had ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) treatments and finds that these can be effective in bringing her out of depression. At the best of times, she has a low-grade depression (called dysthymia) which she must cope with on a daily basis.
Over the course of the last decade and a half, she has lived in four group homes, rented an apartment in a nearby town, and rented a room just outside of Ottawa. She also tried living with a relative and that didn’t work, so she found herself basically homeless and living temporarily with a friend.
She found out about Ancoura from her case worker, and subsequently became a resident in one of Ancoura’s homes. For about a year now, she has been in her newfound townhouse, in the company of two other residents and she is doing fine. She says the support received from the Ancoura community has been great.
She notes that the volunteers, who visit and spend time with the residents, are very caring and supportive. They are now providing one-on-one friendship in addition to group outings. She sparkles when she talks of the day she spent with volunteers on a trip to Merrickville, where she had a great lunch and went shopping at the many craft stores on the main street. She also had a wonderful time when volunteers took her to the swimming pool adjacent to the apartment buildings where two of them live and when they took her on an expedition to Mud Lake.
Brenda notes that caring relationships are an extremely important component in the recovery process and that the Ancoura coordinator and volunteers provide these relationships. A family is important but she says that you don’t really have to be related to be family. Loving, kind people, who are committed to helping, can be very much like a family. The Ancoura coordinators, volunteers and the entire community are behind Brenda and supporting her as she continues to improve her mental health and quality of life.
* This story describes the journey of one of Ancoura’s residents. The names have been changed in the interest of confidentiality.