Let's talk about mental illness: how origami gave Curtis hope and purpose again (video)

I love hearing people’s stories. Stories can be a powerful way to foster understanding and connection. They can change our perspectives when we focus on our similarities instead of differences. We can see people and our own story through a new lens.

Today is Bell Let's Talk Day, a national initiative aimed at raising funds, increasing awareness, reducing stigma and changing people’s behaviours and attitudes about mental illness. For every tweet, text, talk or Facebook share, Bell is donating 5¢ to various mental health initiatives.

I love telling people’s stories.

I work for a mental health organization that has given me the opportunity to film, write and share people’s stories. Many people have kindly let me into their world and opened up about their struggles with mental health issues.

Their stories have touched me deeply and opened my eyes to a variety of experiences. I’ve seen pain and heartache, but also hope, resiliency and creativity.

One of those amazing individuals is Curtis.

Meet Curtis. (Jenna Tenn-Yuk)

Curtis is a talented artist who beams kindness and compassion. I was blown away by his talent with origami and how easily he created these beautiful animals and shapes out of paper. But this art form wasn't always part of his life. The onset of depression changed everything for Curtis eleven years ago.

“The first time I was depressed, it was sort of the darkest,” explains Curtis. “I didn’t know if I was going to get out of it. I had no purpose to do anything and I was wondering where all my purpose went.”

The unlikely source of origami, however, would be part of his road to hope and recovery.

“I didn’t see how it [origami] would become useful to me other than that little bit of joy it gave me, but over the years I've done more and more,” Curtis says.

Origami by Curtis.

There’s still so much stigma and shame surrounding mental illness and mental health issues. Understanding and change, however, can happen through dialogue and the power of people’s stories. Let's continue these conversations past today.

This is Curtis' story. What’s yours?