Peer Supportive Services offers a good place to share

Peer Support Services is a good place to talk about mental health issues. The volunteers are understanding and supportive.

  • Sep. 2, 2016 6:00 p.m.

Elisheva Benjamin

Special to The Morning Star

Jill was looking forward to moving to a different apartment building. She needed a change.

After her successful move she wanted to get to know some of her neighbours. She began with the apartment across the hall. Janice answered the door and they had a nice conversation. She warned Jill about the woman in apartment number five and said she was very antisocial.

Jill wanted to find out for herself so she knocked on number five to introduce herself. There was no answer at first so she walked away. Then she heard the door opened and Jill quickly came back. Jennifer looked at Jill and said to her “what do you want?”  Jill was taken back by this and she introduced herself. Jennifer said that people don’t like her and she didn’t think Jill would either. Jill didn’t know what to say and she noticed the scars on Jennifer’s arms. She had cut herself a number of times.

Jill decided to invite Jennifer over for tea and surprisingly she said yes. When Jennifer came over, Jill was again taken back when Jennifer said she didn’t have any friends. Jill asked why not and she said that it was too difficult to maintain a friendship. Then Jennifer got out of the chair and abruptly said she needed to leave.

After she left, Jill went to her computer and looked up heretohelp.bc.ca, a website about mental health information, for a clue about Jennifer’s behaviour.

She wasn’t sure what to look for but she read about various disorders.

Feeling for Jennifer, she invited her over again.  Jennifer said yes again and Jill tried to tell her about heretohelp.bc.ca. Jennifer broke down and started crying. Jill asked her if she would go see her doctor and share about her issues. Jennifer did not like hearing this from Jill but she said she would think about it and she left.

Jill tried knocking on Jennifer’s door for the subsequent week but there was no answer. Jill felt that Jennifer was avoiding her so she called the Nurses Help Line and described the situation to her. The nurse said that the woman needed to be agreeable for a change to happen and that Jennifer should see a physician.

The next day, Jennifer showed up at Jill’s looking very unkempt and nervous. She said she couldn’t go on like she has been all alone and she had made an appointment with her GP. Jill was glad that she was making this move.

Jill turned out to be Jennifer’s first friend in years and her GP corresponded with a psychiatrist to diagnose Jennifer with borderline personality disorder.

Jennifer was thankful that she was getting help. Her psychiatrist suggested that she reach out to the Canadian Mental Health Association for a social connection. With Jill’s help, Jennifer did this. Jennifer found Peer Support Services a good place to talk about her issues.

The volunteers were understanding and supportive.

Elisheva Benjamin is assistant to the coordinator of Peer Support Services at the CMHA, Vernon branch.