CANADIAN MENTAL HEALTH AMBASSADOR, AUTHOR & PRESENTER
2017/2018 FACE OF MENTAL ILLNESS
"I found my purpose beyond illness. That's when transformation began and healing happened. Whether you suffer or support a loved one, I want to help you find your purpose. It all begins with hope and positive change."
is an Ottawa-based mental health and wellness advocate, author, motivational speaker, and teacher. This summer, he had the honour of being the recipient of Ottawa's 2018-2019 Mayor's City Builder Award for his extensive work in the field of mental health and wellness in Canada and beyond. Last year, he was selected as a ). This important Faces Campaign included as well a to discuss parity between mental and physical health in Canada, balancing government funding for both. In January of 2018, Canada's largest mental health campaign, , continued to shatter records. Chris spoke with CTV news to share his story and message of hope, resilience and healing. As a Canadian Ambassador, he joins forces to destroy the stigma of mental illness throughout Canada and beyond, by educating, instilling change, and increasing awareness and understanding of the devastating effects of illness on sufferers and their loved ones.
It was in 2001 that Chris’ life changed forever. “You have Bipolar Disorder”. Shame, fear, and anxiety would emerge, and over the next decade, he would battle for his life against three life-debilitating illnesses: Bipolar Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Knowing the extreme dangers of stigma in society, he made a decision to hide his illnesses, living only one side of his life in front of others. He hid behind an unexpected ally, writing, and found hope and healing through words. Purpose and meaning would begin to surface. Writing would become the driving force in his healing, motivating him to implement a plethora of innovative mental strategies and techniques that would assist him in regaining a life once lost. Healing does happen, but we must “want” to heal, otherwise we remain frozen in our tracks.
In 2013, Chris released his poignant memoir . This book has now sold approximately 4000 copies and is a source of hope and inspiration for sufferers and supporters. His illustrated picture book on the homeless and mental illness, , was released in 2015, a story of empathy, compassion, and acceptance. His latest, , an anthology of writings by sufferers and their advocates, will be released in the fall of 2018. All three books are published with Chipmunka Publishing in the UK.
As a mental illness survivor, Chris speaks about and highlights the necessity of ending stigma and discrimination. Through writing and speaking, he aims to further educate society on mental illness and wellness, and the dangerous effects that stigma has on both sufferers and their families. Fighting stigma also depends on you. We are all in the fight to increase acceptance of, and compassion for sufferers. Speak up and encourage sufferers to step into the light "early" in their battles and share their stories. That's when hope builds. That's when healing begins. It does happen. Chris has proven this.
Trish Turner – Ottawa, ON
Thank you for writing this book and showing people the hidden side of the mental illness struggle. This book is a must read for everyone! Chris’ opening up of his own struggles with mental illness has enlightened me beyond words. I now have a new understanding of how truly difficult life can be for someone who suffers. No one should have to go through this. It is our responsibility, as human beings, to educate ourselves, and to be supportive of family members, friends, and neighbors who suffer daily. I can’t thank you enough, Chris! May God bless you always on your journey.
Kevin Stemp, Ottawa
“I read your book “Two Sides to the Story: Living a Lie” and couldn’t put it down.”
Raymond Tremblay, Ottawa, ON
I read your beautiful “Sally” and will definitely share it. It is very well written and contains a powerful message – THE INCREDIBLE VALUE OF COMPASSION. Chris is an entertaining and prolific author. I encourage all readers to purchase his two fantastic books. If you want to learn more about mental health and homelessness, these are the books to buy. Pure gems!
Chris Topper – Ottawa, ON
“Sally” was a powerful book! I read it to her last night and we both had tears in our eyes. Wonderful book and message! I wish you success and continued healing.
Octavia La Prairie – Ottawa, ON
My daughter and I read “Sally” and we loved it! The story was beautiful and the illustrations are breathtaking. She keeps it beside the bed and always says how much she loves it. A few tears were definitely shed! We were so moved by your beautiful book.
Michelle Neville – Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario, Mental Health ASSIST Lead
“Two Sides To The Story: Living A Lie” was really wonderfully written! You have a gift!
Shawn Hunter – Ottawa, ON
I bought “Two Sides To The Story” and read it in just a few days. Wow, what a life you and your parents and sister have lived! You’re all amazing! I then gave the book to my mother-in-law whose son has suffered like you but is afraid to open up, even with family. She read your book and cried and laughed and smiled. I have never bought a book before and enjoyed it so much, and then given it to someone else. You’re so strong for writing it, and sharing your story, and helping not only people who walk in your shoes, but their families and friends. All this to say … thank you, Chris!
Sean Haughian – Ottawa, ON
I want to say thank you for being so brave to share your story, “Two Sides To The Story”. So many people will be touched and benefit from hearing your story. Reading about your giving … inspired me even more. I hope you can give me the chance to give to you. I find it inspiring that even though you have had so much difficulty with things, your attitude and positive outlook on life has always shone through.
Sandy Mussio – Belleville, ON
When I started “Two Sides To The Story: Living A Lie”, I couldn’t put it down. What an amazing, incredibly gut-wrenching story it is. I can only imagine what a hard, long and difficult journey this has been for you, but I can’t tell you how proud I am that you had the courage and strength to tell your story and try to change the stigma around mental illness. Every journey begins with one small step and I wish you nothing but success. I will recommend this book to everyone I know, and if it helps one person to seek the help they need or change their attitude about mental illness, your book will have been a success.
Chantal Robichaud – Montréal, QC
Less than 19 hours, minus 8 hours of sleep and an hour or two of getting the kids ready for school and chores around the house. That’s how long it took me to read “Two Sides To The Story”. I was meant to catch-up on household things, but somehow your book called to me … so much for all that “catch-up” I was hoping to accomplish! I cannot even begin to try and capture what your book has meant to me.
Tanya Curtis – Ottawa, ON
“Two Sides To The Story: Living A Lie” has been an engrossing read; your journey is a testament to all that is truly important in each person’s story and how important faith, family, friends and proper health care are so important to each and every one of us. I know that you will make a positive difference in the lives of anyone who is suffering. Your family – your sister, mother, and father are the best example of true love, compassion, and empathy that I have read about.
Sam Berns – Ottawa, ON
I just finished reading “Two Sides To The Story”. I want to tell you I loved it, I loved every page of it. It’s so well written and it’s honest and it’s very touching. It was like every page was competing to get into the story.