No Limits To Recovery
Dylan Deol is an easy-going, positive person who makes friends easily. He is generous with his time and enjoys helping others. Much of this motivation comes from his personal experience overcoming challenges in life.
In 2002, Dylan had a manic attack that led to hospitalization. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, a diagnosis that he found hard to believe.
“I didn’t want to accept that I had a mental illness,” he says. “I wanted to believe that I just got too stressed out and that it was just a one-time thing.”
That was not the case. He experienced more manic attacks followed by bouts of severe depression. He was in and out of hospital and found it hard to get or hold onto a job, which just compounded his condition. It was emotionally traumatizing.
But today, Dylan is doing well and is supporting others who are on their own journey with mental illness. He credits his recovery process to a strong support network of people who care deeply for him. When Dylan was in the midst of his struggles, he was supported by Brian Kroeker, a Peer Support Worker (PSW) with Communitas Supportive Care Society. Brian knew exactly what Dylan was experiencing because he has also lived with mental illness. Having someone truly understand his condition was a great source of encouragement.
Brian showed me by example that I could live a life in recovery. I felt that he understood me at a deeper level because he had also lived with mental illness. Dylan, Peer Support Worker
Brian is humbled by Dylan’s praise and says that having a mutual understanding of their mental illness has allowed them both to come to a place of acceptance and healing. He believes that Dylan brings many strengths to his role as a PSW including a calm demeanour and patience.
“He understands what people are going through and is a great communicator,” Brian says. “I think he has become more accepting of himself and wants to do for those he supports what I hopefully did for him.
The positive experience of being supported by a PSW and a natural inclination to help others led Dylan to take the training to become a PSW. He loves spending time with the people he serves, listening to their stories and offering encouragement.
“My favourite part of the job is that it gives me a sense of purpose and makes me feel that I’m making a difference,” he says.
Jennifer Gagne is a manager at Communitas. She says that she is inspired daily by the stories of the PSWs who walk alongside others on their journey towards mental health. She says Dylan is a great source of encouragement for others on their team.
“It’s encouraging for us to see Dylan, who was, at first, receiving support, now achieve his recovery goals that led to his being hired as a PSW,” she says. “Dylan’s lived experience with recovery makes him a valuable mentor to the peers he supports as well as an inspiration to our team as a whole.”
The Peer Support Program provides support towards recovery through group learning, workshops, and one-on-one support from someone with lived experience. The program helps people move towards health by helping them identify what makes them well and by providing tools to help them maintain wellness. Having a PSW in this process is ideal because people are supported by individuals with a unique understanding of their shared experience.
Dylan enjoys this work so much that he is taking part in the Local Community Network that has been tasked with the job of redesigning mental health services in Abbotsford.
“My role is to give input and ideas that come from a lived experience point of view,” he says. “As a member who has lived with mental illness and been a recipient of the many services offered to those living with mental illness, I bring a unique point of view to the redesigning process.”
Jennifer says it is inspiring to see Dylan take the initiative to participate in this working group. She is proud of her entire team who remind her every day that recovery is possible.
“With support, all people can get well and stay well for long periods of time,” she says. “There are no limits to recovery!”