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Revelstoke depression survivor hosting support group

Revelstoke Times Review - 10/30/2018

When she was younger Michelle Schiewe thought that showing her vulnerability meant showing weakness.

It wasn't until she was going through treatment for situational depression that those beliefs changed.

"What I learned through my depression was that being vulnerable was the most courageous human emotion that you could express," she said.

So, instead of saying "I'm good" when someone asked how she was, she would speak her truth and what she found was that people, often strangers, would lend a helping hand.

Now, after leaving an abusive relationship, that was the primary cause of her depression, and healing, Schiewe has started a depression and anxiety peer support group in Revelstoke.

"I realized there was still a need for it and I am very passionate about supporting people with depression and anxiety because I lived through it, I am a survivor," she said.

The group met for the first time on Oct. 23 and Schiewe has secured a room at the Revelstoke Credit Union Insurance Building for every Tuesday at 7 p.m. until December.

"I was so nervous about the first meeting, but the way it went was like 'yup this is where I am supposed to be serving and giving back to my community'," she said.

To start the meeting Schiewe shared her story.

She said that through the research she has done she learned that the group needs to be flexible to what the needs of the participant are and focused on peer support.

Schiewe's mission statement is "We will love you until you can love yourself."

You will not be surrounded by victims service workers or counsellors, Schiewe said, it is a really relaxed loving and supportive group.

"It's not a pity party, we are here to listen but it is not a group where you go to feel sorry about yourself, it is a group where you go to feel that glimmer of hope, to break free, even if it is just for a moment, to break free from that negative mind loop that we have going during those dark periods of our lives," she said.

Schiewe said that everyone experiencing depression and/or anxiety is welcome to come to a meeting, whether it be every week or when they need an extra boost, it is up to them. However, she cautioned that the group is not a replacement for clinical treatment and that it might not be a good place for someone who is in crisis, but she acknowledged that everyone's experience is different.

She also cautioned about youth attending the meeting, though she said they would be welcome the group is honest and open.

"We do talk about very adult experiences," she said.

Schiewe is excited to continue facilitating the group, saying serving the community in this way fills her soul and she knows that the participants in the group feel the same way.

"Everyone's experience is unique but when you are in a room full of people that have kind of lived through something and experienced something together, that is so incredibly powerful," she said.

"And when you feel like you have been heard, that is transforming for the individual."

The meetings are Tuesdays at 7 p.m. at 201 Victoria Road West in the RCU Insurance Building. The private entrance is located on Campbell Ave.

 
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