Wednesday, January 3, 2018

In dark times, reaching out

Our new A Family Like Mine video features a remarkable mother who wants to break the silence around mental illness.
Leomina Valderrama has two sons: Bryan, 22, and Brendell, 15. Since Brendell was born with cerebral palsy, seizures, and complex medical needs, Leomina has dedicated her life to his care. In recent years, her husband Gilberto struggled with depression. Leomina reached out to social worker Barbara Germon at Holland Bloorview to help her cope. Last April, her husband died of suicide. "My heart wants to reach out to those who are going through what I've been through personally," Leomina says. "There is help available when we don't stigmatize with the silence of mental illness, and raising a child with a disability is a challenge, but there is joy that comes with it." Here she talks about strategies to build her resilience as a single parent and move forward, as well as her fear of who will care for Brendell when she can't. Bryan talks about what he's learned from Brendell.