Why We Exist
Hello, my name is Izzy. I’m a member of Potential Place, and I’m here to tell you about my journey and to open a door of hope to young adults who struggle with mental illness. Mental illness is real. Instead of making mental illness a dark shadow, and having stigma attached to it – and all the fear that it creates in people to not reach out for help – we can create light and hope for people who are suffering. If we educate and create mental health awareness, people will no longer have to face mental illness in the dark or alone, scared and isolated.
I’m currently 25 years old, I was adopted as a young child, I was born in Poland, and when polish social services apprehended me, I was found in deplorable conditions taken to an orphanage where I was adopted. I had suffered neglect and abuse in my early child hood years, which was damaging to my health development both physically and psychologically. I had inadequate nutrition for my brain development as well as inadequate caregiving for my emotional development.
My adoptive parents who were supposed to love me and protect me from harm, repeatedly abused me physically, sexually and emotionally – abused me for years up until I got to my later teen years. I ran away from home, ended up on the streets, homeless, living in shelters, and having to survive, I got into prostitution. I attempted suicide in grade 10.
I recently went through an extensive psychological assessment which resulted in diagnoses of PTSD, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, major depressive disorder, intellectual disability, learning disabilities, along with features of avoidant and dependent personality disorder. I also learned that my biological mom’s alcoholism left me suffered with brain damage, and now going through the process of an FASD assessment.
When I first became aware of Potential Place I found it overwhelming; however, I continued attending despite the level of anxiety I felt. I needed people that understood what I was going through during this stage of my life, so I came up with an idea to start a young adult program so young adults can have a place where they connect with people their age, and get support building their goals and skills while steering them with the right resources and to help manage their mental health without judgement and shame. Young adults need support for their wellness – so they can engage themselves by going to school, or maintaining a job in the community to create meaning in their lives. They need to have a support network – so they can have the confidence to face their challenges and barriers – and so they can become independent and know that their voice matters, and it’s ok to speak up and to reach out for help. Everyone needs that chance in life to have the opportunity to succeed, to grow and discover who they are as person and not just a diagnosis or a label.
Potential Place is a unique community and a place that has been my key support and I cannot imagine where I would be in life without Potential Place. It has been a place where I can work towards my educational goals, build relationships and feel part of something bigger then myself. Feeling like I am part of a community where people understand my strengths and weaknesses does make a big difference in my life. I don’t have family support and a part of me will feel empty but I now see that family can be the people like the community of Potential Place, and the community of school, and friends and other supports I choose to have around me. I sometimes I feel vulnerable and scared to show my emotions but Potential Place hasn’t judged me and I don’t feel ashamed during my hardest times. I am accepted for who I am on my good and bad days. Potential Place community has been there for me when no one else has been there for me.