Catherine experienced her first psychotic episode in 2000, when the stresses of work and life affected her in ways she didn’t expect. As a trained molecular biologist, and long-time employee of the biotech drug development industry, she was suddenly perceiving mental illness from the patients point of view.
Shortly after immigrating to Canada in 2002, Catherine experienced another episode and was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder Type 1. She was employed during her recovery in a situation where her illness was not disclosed, and believes that an integrated team approach would have helped her to reach stability faster. Fear of the unknown prevented her from speaking out.
After being laid-off alongside a number of colleagues in 2012, Catherine began to work with the Canadian Cancer Society in health promotion, particularly the Wellness Fits program in conjunction with Healthy Families BC. This program provides free online modules for workplaces to increase their general wellness, and includes a component on healthy minds. She also trained to become qualified in Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) the process of which she found very therapeutic.
More recently, Catherine has realized the importance of speaking out about her own mental illness, and the value of taking her own experiences to the mental health arena. In January 2014, she sat on a panel for the Canadian Association of Pharmacy Students and Interns (CAPSI) Professional Development Week in Vancouver to discuss improving mental healthcare delivery by pharmacists.
Catherine lives in the Fraser Valley of BC, has two teenaged children, two housemates, and two dogs, and is an avid amateur photographer (not to mention, social networking geek).