Behind Closed Doors opens the hard truth of addiction and mental health

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mental health
Image Credit: Total Shape / totalshape.com

SAULT STE. MARIE: Addiction and mental health seems to emerge concerns in the city of Sault Ste. Marie. One local advocacy group known as Addiction and Mental Health Advocates (AAMHA) presents an evening of powerful-heartwrenching monologues, all locally written, about the growing issues of addiction and mental health.

Behind Closed Doors poster

Partnering with the Fishbowl Festival, AAMHA will present “Behind Closed Doors,” on Friday, March 13 and Saturday, March 14. This emotional event will feature 14 monologues and share the experiences of individuals faced with addiction and mental health in Sault Ste. Marie. The event will speak upon everything, from an educational perspective, substance abuse, those dealing with substance abuse, suicide, PTSD, depression, post-partum depression, eating disorders, resource availability, stigma, and breaking the stereotype.

“What we have here tonight is a series of monologues that are written about the issues that challenge families of substance users and patients with mental illness. This event is a hard-hitting look at the problems that exist here in Sault Ste. Marie. These are stories that have happened to some of our members, some of our members have written these stories, some are telling their own stories, some aren’t. It’s mostly fiction, and there is no one you can identify. This is to do with everything: suicide, post-paradigm depression, addiction, The Sixties Scoop, anorexia, and everything,” says Donna DeSimon, organizer and volunteer member of AAMHA. 

The group is excited for everyone to hear the pieces they have worked so hard on, as well they are hoping for a positive impact. The monologues will be hard, but the message and meaning behind it are even more significant.

“One of the main reasons we’re doing this is to educate because of the stigma, and the judgment in this town is just crazy. I imagine it’s probably like that in every town, but it’s dishearting to read online on the things that they say about addicts and people with addiction. Let’s face it, mental health and addiction go hand and hand; there is so much stigma. And a lot of people won’t seek help because of the stigma, and that’s sad. We have to educate people, and it’s better for everybody. We’re all losers when nobody is getting help.”

“We’re just trying to teach people that these stories are very real. Sault Ste. Marie, this is your wakeup call, this is actually what’s going on in this city. A lot of people want to borrow their heads and pretend it doesn’t exist. We want to make people aware that this is going on. Some people don’t want to see it, but we’re out there putting it in your face.”

AAMHA is combined with two groups, Survivors of Addiction Family Group and the Peer to Peer Mental Health Support Group. DeSimon explains the group started with addictions until recently addressing mental health concerns.  “I belonged with another group before, and we started a family group from there, and then I went and formed my group. Another friend came along and said, why don’t we do a mental health group also, here we are. Mental health and addiction go hand in hand.” The local group meets every Tuesday night for mental health and every Thursday night for families of addiction. DeSimon expresses her concern that not many people think of the families living with a substance abuser.

The production of “Behind Closed Doors” is to expose the community to the topics no one wants to discuss. As many of the performers said, “We need more help, its time to make people uncomfortable.”

Behind Closed Doors will be performed at the Sault Theatre Workshop on Friday, March 13, and Saturday, March 14. Doors open at 6:15 p.m performance starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 each and will be available for purchase at the door or by emailing Donna DeSimon at [email protected], or by sending her a message on Facebook. Proceeds to be divided between three groups, $5 back for the Fishbowl Festival, $5 to the Sault Theatre Workshop, and the remaining for AAMHA. The final goal of AAMHA is to one day become a not-for-profit.

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