Mary Scheidegger is the Team Captain of Dr’Agonize Dragonboat team of CMHA’s Shuswap/Revelstoke 2018 Ride Don’t Hide.

Mary first became involved with the CMHA Shuswap/Revelstoke branch about 16 years ago when her spouse was diagnosed and entered acute care. As a busy mom of three, CMHA was a helpful resource and she is grateful for the impact that they had on her life. Mental health is important to Mary because she believes that it is something that everyone experiences in their lifetime.“Two members of my immediate family live with major mental illness and other family members and friends have daily struggles with anxiety and depression. Since diagnosis, my ex-husband has lived a happy, balanced life with the help of CMHA, his medical team and other healthy choices. It has been made very clear to our family how important medication and support are for living with mental illness in a healthy way.”

She believes that seeking peer support and feeling safe to talk is the best advice for someone struggling with the stigma of mental illness.“I believe it is even more important to know in your heart that you are not alone… and that by talking about the (many) challenges of mental illness with others who understand, provides strength and coping strategies when having to face stigma in the community, at work and at home.” When her children were older, she began to volunteer with the Shuswap/Revelstoke CMHA branch that had helped her so much in the past. She joined the board of directors and volunteered at various events held by the branch, including Ride Don’t Hide.

Ride Don’t Hide has always been special to Mary who is part of the event as a planning committee member and as a Team Captain. Mary became involved with Ride Don’t Hide because she believes that everyone needs support to maintain mental health and the best way to ensure wellness, is to talk about it. “Breaking down stigmas and raising awareness (and funds of course) is what Ride Don’t Hide is all about”. Raising funds in this year’s event is something that Mary understands, she’s seen the impact that the funds make, in programs that make a difference in so many lives, including her family. “My daughter, I am sure, would provide you with a long list of how CMHA has made a difference in her life,” she shared. “From volunteer opportunities, peer support, housing and excursions (and so much more) her life is much richer because of CMHA and the remarkable people who are CMHA”.

When Mary reflects about her Ride Don’t Hide experiences over the years, last year stands out for her because her daughter wasn’t able to join her on the ride when she had always ridden in the previous years. “My daughter wasn’t able to ride as she was almost 9 months pregnant and had just recently been discharged from the hospital psychiatric care. My heart was heavy as I rode, acutely aware of her absence but proudly wearing her name on my tag.”

Mary is hopeful about the future of mental health, and that in her community, mental illness is viewed with great compassion and understanding. “There is a lot more work to be done to break down barriers and reduce stigmas, for sure! But compared to a generation ago, we’re moving in the right direction.” We asked Mary what she wanted people to know about Ride Don’t Hide. “It’s fun!” she replied. “It’s for everyone in the community. It’s inspiring and hopeful. It’s not limiting in anyway. No judgements. Just love.”

It’s riders like Mary, who are done hiding and find the courage to share their story, who will help break down the stigma of mental health.

This is why Mary rides. Why will you ride?

Support Mary and her team or join a Ride Don’t Hide event near you!