High Notes

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Music can change the world because it can change people - Bono


Julie Everson knows heart break, she knows crushing fear, pain, anger, wild swings in temperament and outlook and she knows abandonment, being left on the streets of Toronto as an infant by parents incapable of caring for her.  But that is just one side of Julie.  And a side that she only recently started coming to terms with as she began opening up to the world.

Julie is also outgoing, kind and a young woman who loves to make people laugh. She is a mother and a wife, a music lover and she just recently discovered her natural gift for writing and public speaking.  Above all else, Julie is a survivor and driven to tell her story of recovery in order to help people who face similar challenges and she is looking forward to sharing her story of life with Borderline Personality Disorder when she performs on May 2nd at the second annual High Notes for Mental Health concert at the Flato Markham Theatre. It is a night of music and spoken word that aims to inspire, raise awareness and help those touched by mental illness move forward.

“Life with a Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) diagnosis, with any mental health diagnosis can feel limiting.  The whole label of mental illness can feel like you are put in a box, only to be feared or misunderstood by society and for that very reason, so many people choose to struggle alone and never reach out for help.  But it doesn’t have to be this way,” says Julie, who was diagnosed as an early teen and who spent many years of her young life in psychiatric facilities.

BPD is a serious psychiatric illness that is often difficult to diagnose and even more difficult to manage and typically manifests itself in an inability to regulate emotions.  Individuals living with BPD face an unstable sense of self, overwhelming fears of abandonment, anger and emptiness and often struggle with suicidal thoughts or engage in self-harming.

“As a young child I had problems connecting with people and feeling love for someone or feeling loved in return just didn’t seem to fit.  I have lived in group homes, faced abuse and ended up on the streets,” Julie adds.

Pretty much any challenge a person can face, I have dealt with and I think it is all of these experiences that makes my poetry resonate with so many different people.  Sharing my stories – putting them out there in the world helps me to heal and to manage my disorder and I know that it helps other people to realize that they are not alone and that it isn’t that scary to tell someone you are hurting or that you need help.  I am so grateful to be given the chance to tell people my story and in turn, help them tell theirs.”

Julie was recently asked by the Canadian Mental Health Association to join their Speakers Bureau and speaks regularly to school groups and at not for profit events including the High Notes for Mental Health concert.  “We are so proud that Julie will be sharing her poetry with us.  Her performance is sure to be one of the highlights on May 2.  To hear directly from someone who has lived within the mental health community, to see her manage her situation and not only survive, but thrive, is truly empowering.  She absolutely embodies the message that we are trying to convey. There is life—even a good life—beyond a mental health challenge and there is no shame in reaching out for help,” says Ingrid Taheri, Artistic and Executive Director of High Notes Avante Productions Inc.

Ingrid was inspired to launch the High Notes concert as a way to raise awareness and de-stigmatize mental illness when a member of her own family suddenly faced a mental health crisis.  “One in five Canadians will experience mental health challenges in their lifetime which means that almost everyone has someone in their life who has been touched by this,” she says.

The good news is that 80 per cent of them can be helped. We are focusing on telling these stories in order to inspire others to reach out for help and to be comfortable talking about their mental health. Ultimately it is about saving lives.”

The second annual High Notes for Mental Health concert takes place at the Flato Markham Theatre on Saturday, May 2, 2015.  It will be an evening of music, hope and inspiration and will feature a stellar line-up of musical and spoken word artists.  Joining Julie Everson are Royal Canadian Air Farce veteran, Luba Goy as host, acclaimed tenor, Richard Margison and his daughter Lauren Margison, the St. Michael’s Choir School, violist Alex McLeod, pianist Charissa Vandikas, Canadian accordion champion, Michael Bridge, Dr. Rustom Sethna who is the Chief Psychiatrist at Markham-Stouffville Hospital, Orlando Da Silva, head of the Ontario Bar Association and mental health advocate, and Canadian conductor and motivational speaker, Boris Brott.

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