In the late 80’s we moved to Toronto and I enjoyed life here. I was an active member of the Buddhist temple and involved with the Lao community in Toronto. I have fond memories of my life with my kids and family.
As much as I was enjoying my life in Toronto my physical and mental health issues started to get worse. A few years later, I lost my job and was involved in multiple motor vehicle accidents. My wife and I got divorced and I blame a large part of it on my mental health issues including bipolar disorder. My mental health and physical issues were not only hard on me but her and my family as well.
My life was spiralling out of control, I was jobless and suffering from physical ailments. My ex-wife continued to live with our children and I moved to a small place by myself.
Mental health is not recognized or understood in the Lao community and I was alone and isolated without support. I lost touch with my wife and kids and extended family.
My family doctor did an assessment of my condition and referred me to Hong Fook Mental Health Association, a mental health clinic that specializes in addressing the needs of Asian Communities. I have been receiving psychiatric care from Hong Fook on a regular basis. Because of their support and care, I am doing well now – I don’t have pain and I take my medications regularly.
I was so fortunate to have found LOFT. The staff at LOFT, like James, my support worker, have been a great help to me. I am no longer isolated and I take part in a lot of the social activities at LOFT including the monthly grocery trips and other events. LOFT is my community now. If it weren’t for LOFT I wouldn’t have a home or my life back, and I am so grateful for the services of LOFT.
To read more of Nikone’s story visit the LOFT website www.loftcs.org
This article originally appeared in the March 2016 issue of the LOFT Community Services newsletter. Used with permission.