In the mid-1990s, Richard experienced a major bipolar episode. Coupled with a psychosis, this first manifestation of his mental illness would force him to start a new life practically from scratch. It all began with a manic phase. Richard was starting a new chapter in his life and had big dreams. He had a new job that involved a move. In fact, he strategically chose the new city where he would settle with his son and spouse... to make it easier to leave the latter. Richard was content. He felt in control of his actions and decisions, which to him seemed infallibly logical. His employer was happy with his work and gave him more responsibilities. He believed he had the energy to accomplish anything, he felt invincible. On a business trip to New Brunswick, he got a “call” that would lead him to have mystical delusions. Richard’s energy was boundless, and he didn’t sleep for days. At the height of his psychosis, he was finally arrested by the police. He was referred to a psychiatrist but only for a brief period, as he quickly regained his mental stability in response to medication. His emotions were neutral. Upon returning to his apartment, the depressive phase set in. He had the impression he was falling into a deep pit. He cried constantly and could not manage to calm himself down. It was the darkest and most difficult period that Richard had ever lived through. He was hospitalized for three weeks and at first refused to see the light of day. It was an attendant who pulled him out of his mutism by telling him that there was a reason why he was in hospital: “Richard, you need to take your time.” In that instant, Richard took his first tentative steps on the road to recovery.
After a year of ups and downs, a job opportunity reignited his desire to rebuild his life. He would move to Isle-aux-Grues, whose serene, natural setting offered the ideal conditions for him to recover. Richard felt good, but he was afraid of moving too fast in his rehabilitation. He didn’t want to crash again. Then he met Fabienne, the woman who has now been his life partner for the past 20 years. He experienced one more psychotic episode with her, but they got through it together. Today, Richard enjoys a stable life with a positive network of family and friends and a job that suits him in mental health in the Québec City area. He has lots of support and takes care of himself. What’s more, he is no longer afraid of having another episode of his illness, as he has a solid personal foundation and knows that he could confront it. Richard is proud of his recovery and for the last fifteen years has been a trainer and guest speaker, even collaborating with artists occasionally to give talks that combine lecture and performance. He is also the author of several influential books, including Le fragile équililbre and Un phare sur ma route. Richard hopes to provide constructive support to people living with mental health problems and their families, and he dreams of helping to improve workplace health and wellness.
To learn more about Richard and his mission to combat stigma, visit his website.