Andrea Paquette

‘Bipolar Babe’ recognized for inspiring life comeback

Leader of group providing mental health support on West Shore has overcome stigma, effects of bipolar disorder

The guiding force behind an organization that helps young West Shore adults deal with mental health issues has been honoured with a Courage to Come Back award in the mental health category.

Andrea Paquette, executive director of the Bipolar Disorder Society of B.C., which operates a co-ed 18-over support group at Centennial Park in Langford, was one of six individuals who received the awards from Coast Mental Health for “demonstrating extraordinary courage in their recovery from illness or adversity.”

“This award means a lot to me, and is a testimony to all of the people we’ve been able to help,” Paquette said in a release.

“I am very honoured to have been nominated and wanted to share my personal story to help other people, so that they don’t suffer in silence as I did. I wanted them to know that you can overcome, you can survive and you can come back.”

Paquette – who embraces her nickname Bipolar Babe – was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in her 20s after growing up around her mother’s mental illness. In her toughest times she was living in a psychiatric ward, having experienced homelessness and other personal challenges.

After receiving the help she needed to turn things around, she now supports and educates countless people, especially youth, about mental health, stigmas and reaching out for help.

She strongly reminds people that a mental illness does not define who you are.

For more information about the West Shore co-ed support group for people age 18 and over, or the Bipolar Disorder Society of B.C. in general, visit bipolarsociety.ca.

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

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