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 happy. 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, and 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 stopped by the police. He received psychiatric care, but only for a brief period, as he quickly regained his mental stability after receiving the appropriate treatment, which included meeting with psychosocial specialists and taking the medication they recommended. His emotions were very neutral. Upon returning to his apartment, the depressive phase set in. He felt as though 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 he had ever had to go 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 silence by telling him that there was a reason why he was in the hospital: “Richard, take your time.” At that very moment, Richard took his first tentative steps on the road to recovery.
After a year of highs and lows, including therapy and attending a support group, a job opportunity reignited his desire to rebuild his life. He moved to Isle-aux-Grues, which offered the ideal conditions for him to recover. The environment was serene, and Richard was calmed by nature. Richard felt good, but he was afraid of moving too fast in his rehabilitation. He did not want to experience another episode. Furthermore, completely unexpectedly, but he had met the person who was to be become his wife. For more than twenty-five years, Fabienne and Richard have been living happily together. During this time, he experienced one more psychotic episode, in 2008, 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 the mental health sector in the Québec City area. He has a great support system and he takes care of himself. He is no longer afraid of experiencing events related to his illness, as he has a solid personal foundation and knows that if such an event should ever arise, he would be able to manage it. For twenty years, Richard has been a lecturer and trainer for various audiences (he even presents occasionally at lecture-shows along with a Moncton artist). Recently, he even appeared (via video-conference) before a group of more than sixty judges to share his experience. After writing “Le fragile équililbre” (2004 and 2016), and “Un phare sur ma route” (2015), he will release a completely new book in 2021, focused on hope and resilience. With this book, he hopes to provide constructive support to those who are living with mental health challenges as well as to the people around them. He also dreams of making a significant contribution to improving health and wellness in the workplace and the community.
To learn more about this first-class educator, who is not afraid to open up about his own issues and who has a deep desire to demystify mental health problems, visit his website.