Help along the way
Conor Mullally’s journey with mental health is a long one with many stops along the way, but it’s one he’s not afraid to talk about.
“I think everyone experiences mental health, to an extent,” he said on the phone from his home in Souris, PEI. “Some people’s experience is at a more clinical level. But when you’re at the point of hospitalization, like I’ve been, that’s a different level entirely.”
In the winter of 2021 Mullally was admitted to the Hillsborough Hospital, where he stayed for nine weeks.
“I like to say, after 15 years of wellness, I was due in for a pit stop,” he joked.
Mullally wants people to know his story. He wants people to see some of the help he received along the way for bipolar disorder.
“I know very well it can take years for a first assessment and diagnosis,” said Mullally. “I was lucky to have that done young. I was diagnosed as bipolar in 2002, at the age of 20. That unlocked access to care I’ve been very appreciative of.”
These days, some of that care comes in the form of Fern Silva, who visits him once a week at his home in Souris. Silva is an adult outreach registered nurse with Community Mental Health East.
“I meet my clients where they’re at,” said Silva. “I visit their homes. I make sure they’re taking their meds and getting to their appointments. Sometimes we meet for lunch. Many of them have social anxiety, so it’s great to be a guide for them in that environment.”
“Fern has been a real resource for me,” said Mullally. “Community outreach care is often overlooked when we’re talking about mental health care. I don’t have to go to an office to see him, and that is so important for me. He’s checking in on me. He’s seeing how I’m getting along. But we’re also discussing my cognitive behavior and dialectical therapy.”
Silva is also running groups to expand what it means to be an outreach nurse in a more rural setting.
“Whether it’s a group to discuss anger management, or a leisure group to work on social skills,” said Silva. “I’m here to make sure my clients do well in their community and sometimes that means making sure they’re taking care of themselves, but sometimes it means helping them build up their skills.”
Mullally is feeling more settled in Souris. After moving around the country for much of his adult life for work, he’s putting down roots in the same community where he was raised. He’s found a new job, and it’s going well.
“It’s really good to be back in the work world,” he said. “I’m at a good place. People say to me, you don’t seem like you have mental illness. I like to say, ‘that’s because I work so hard at it’ and I’ve had help along the way.”