Mahone Bay man raises funds, awareness for schizophrenia

by Gayle Wilson

  • <p>FILE PHOTO</p><p>Christian Herridge and an aerial photo of his which is on display at the Mahone Bay Centre.</p>

Mahone Bay resident Christian Herridge has been pounding the pavement in advance of the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia's 10th annual Road to Recovery Walk in Halifax May 5, and in the first three weeks has raised more than $5,000 for the cause.

It's no small achievement for the popular local photographer who also suffers from the disease, as well as an osteo condition.

"We keep telling him, 'No you don't have to this.' But he's determined he wants to do it. And his feet - he ouches at every step," his mother Ruth told LighthouseNOW while Herridge was out drumming up pledges.

Now 42, Herridge was diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was 18.

According to his mother, initially he was reluctant to talk about it.

"We told him that we needed to talk about it to heal, and to learn about schizophrenia," says Ruth, explaining that eventually her son got to the point that he was doing public speaking on the issue with the aim of reducing the stigma around mental illness.

"In Lunenburg County there always was a stigma," says Ruth, although she says her own son has experienced little of that. "Because people have always accepted him for who he is and what he represents."

While he was in a rehabilitation program in the Annapolis Valley, his father, a photography buff himself, gave Christian a small camera thinking it might be something for him to get interested in.

It has since become an "obsession," according to his mother. "He loves doing it. He feels really good when somebody praises him about his photography."

His therapeutic art stops with the camera; he does no processing with programs such as Photoshop.

"What you see is what you get," says Ruth.

He produces cards with his photographs and a picture of himself as well as a brief description of his situation on the back, which he hands out or are sold through various shops.

"Most people are very supportive of it."

LighthouseNOW often publishes his photographs in our publications.

Christian will be the official photographer at the Road to Recovery Walk. The event kicks off Mental Health Awareness Week in Nova Scotia, which runs from May 7 to 13.

Registration begins at the Halifax Commons at 12:00 p.m. and goes until 12:45 p.m., and the walk gets underway at 1:00 p.m. There will be celebrations following that.

Christian raised more than $2,000 for last year's walk.

"When he gets something that he wants to do, he is all out," says his mother.

Ruth says her son wants to raise public awareness concerning recent government cutbacks and how they are impacting mental health services.

"And he just wants people out there with the illness to know that it's important to get out there and be noted, and not to be ashamed of what you have as an illness," she added.

To register for or donate to the Road To Recovery online , you can follow this link: http://www.ssns.ca/home.html

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