Living Through Trauma: Beverly’s Story
Note: This story may contain triggers for some
It was June 4, 1989. Beverly was living in Beijing and working as a volunteer teacher. It was a time of political unrest in China. Thousands of students were protesting against China’s communist rulers. Hu Yaobang, a former leader of China’s Communist Party who worked to move the government toward a more open political system, had recently passed away. Students took to Beijing’s Tiananmen Square to mourn his death. That fateful day, Chinese troops moved in and fired on civilians.
Beverly returned from a trip to North China to Beijing on the day of the massacre. Thousands of people were killed. Beverly took refuge in a nearby hotel to avoid the bullets aimed in her direction, and was grateful to be alive. She had friends in Beijing that she worried had met a different fate. It took two years after returning to Canada for her to find out their status.
When Beverly returned to Canada she took a job teaching but the job was short-lived. She was having flash backs of that difficult time. Thus began a lifetime of mental health issues for Beverly.
It was the early 1990s when information about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was limited and not widely shared. Beverly went days at a time without adequate sleep. She was eventually carried into the Grand River Hospital adult inpatient mental health unit. During her second stay, Beverly was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. PTSD was not mentioned.
Throughout her life, Beverly has been able to function relatively well considering what she has been through, but life’s traumas have set her back more than a few times. A stillbirth, the weaning of her first living child and post-partum depression, along with the death of both her mother and father have been triggers for Beverly and she needs a little more support when life gets tough.
Beverly will likely always need to manage her mental health with medications and methods like peer support and she is grateful to be a part of the Waterloo Wellington LHIN’s Patient and Family Advisory Committee (PFAC) where she can apply her lived experience to advocate for better mental health supports for everyone in our region.