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Kamloops News

BEPPLE: Talking about mental illness

Image Credit: Compilation/Jennifer Stahn
April 08, 2016 - 9:20 AM

On Wednesday, April 13, Margaret Trudeau will be in Kamloops. She’ll be speaking at a special breakfast hosted by the Rotary Club of Kamloops and the Royal Inland Hospital Foundation in conjunction with the Shine a Light community group. The breakfast will take place at Thompson Rivers University in the Grand Hall.

At the breakfast, Margaret, the mother of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, will share her journey with mental illness, and how she has learned to live with bi-polar disorder. Margaret will share personal stories to remind others of the importance of nurturing the body, mind and spirit.

All funds raised at the breakfast will go to upgrade the patient lounge at 1-South, the Royal Inland Hospital mental health ward.

Many, many people have been to 1-South in Kamloops. About 1,000 people a year are admitted to the ward every year. Some stay a few days. Some stay for weeks. They are like everyone else – spouses, daughters, sons, grandparents. They come from every walk of life in Kamloops. 1-South is a place where they can get well.

I’m just like Margaret. I’ve been mentally ill. Two years ago, I was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and I was admitted to 1-South. Those are two things I would have never thought would happen to me. Being mentally ill was one of the hardest things that ever happened to me.

Having a mental illness is like having any illness. The medical professionals can help. But the support of family and friends, along with one’s personal strength, is what really gets you through. The staff at 1-South are fantastic but having family and friends come to visit and spend time in the lounge is so important.

I know firsthand the 1-South lounge needs upgrading. The lighting is poor. The cabinets are worn. The fitness equipment and games need updating. The magazines are years old. The list goes on. There are so many things which could be done to make the lounge a cozier, more inviting place.

Having an inviting lounge, where patients and their loved ones can spend time connecting would help make the journey back that much easier.

Being ill was one of the hardest things I’ve gone through, but it was also a gift to me. I had tremendous love and support from my family and friends. It reaffirmed to me the values that guide my life are solid. I learned I have a tremendous amount personal strength. I was and continue to be an optimist.

Being mentally ill is tough, but we can all make it easier by supporting the Royal Inland Hospital Foundation’s fundraising for 1-South.

If you’ve been to 1-South, or known someone who has, then I encourage you to come to the breakfast on Wednesday, April 13. And even if you haven’t been to 1-South, think about coming to the breakfast anyways, because one day, just like me, you may find yourself there.

For tickets, go to or call Cam at 250-372-2955.

— Nancy Bepple is a recovering politician and local news junkie. She expects she will never recover from her love of the banjo.

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