CHRIS NIHMEY is an Ottawa-based mental health advocate, author, motivational speaker, and teacher. In 1998, Chris began his teaching career before succumbing to his various illnesses. He was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in 2001. Subsequently, he was diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. He resigned from permanent teaching in 2000, a painful decision preventing him from moving forward in his life. For decades, Chris battled three life-debilitating illnesses. In combination, they nearly destroyed him. 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 through words.
In 2007, Chris began the writing of his memoir, Two Sides To The Story: Living A Lie (Chipmunka Publishing, UK, 2013), describing his battle with mental illness. Released in 2013, the memoir has sold almost 4,000 copies and provides hope to sufferers and those who support them. Alongside therapy, loving support, medications, faith, and much hard work, the writing of his story became one of the driving forces in his healing, in his quest to gain a stable life.
In 2015, Chris released his new illustrated picture book, Sally (Chipmunka Publishing, UK, 2016), a heartwarming story centred on mental illness and homelessness, geared to any age. It is a story proving that empathy, compassion, and acceptance will change a life forever. His latest, Reflections From Another Side: Mental Illness Survivors and Advocates Unite To Write, will be released this fall, an anthology of written works by 15 mental illness survivors and 10 advocates.
As a mental illness survivor, Chris now joins in the fight against the stigma that affects all sufferers and their supporters. Through writing and speaking, he aims to further educate society on mental illness, and the dangerous effects that stigma has on both sufferers and their loved ones.