Meet Ann Douglas, Inspiring Advocate & a Woman We Love
Meet Ann Douglas, mom of four, mentor to many, and an inspiration to all Canadians on persevering and advocating for what you believe in. We chatted with Ann to find out what's on her mind this International Women's Day.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
International Women's Day, to me, is a day to take stock of our lives as women. We've come a long way, but we still have a long way to go in terms of creating a world in which every girl and woman feels loved, valued, respected, and whole, and is able to contribute to the life and work of the community in ways that are meaningful to her.
Mental health remains a stigma today, and you stand out as an advocate and a mentor. Why?
I grew up with a mother who struggled with the stigma of living with a mood disorder (bipolar I, which is the type of bipolar disorder in which periods of depression alternate with periods of mania). She felt that she was being judged -- and judged unworthy -- by others. As a result, she became increasingly isolated in the years leading up to her death (from lung cancer, in 2003).
When I was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder a few years ago (bipolar II is the type of bipolar disorder in which periods of depression alternate with periods of hypomania: periods of high energy as opposed to a true mania), I decided I was going to be very frank and open about my struggles. I want people to know that it's possible to have a mood disorder and to have an amazing life. You don't have to choose one or the other.
What do you most wish your daughters (and/or young girls) to grow knowing?
I want my daughter (who is 23) to know that she is loved -- that she has always been loved -- just the way she is. I want her to know that she is worthy of respect and deserving of love. I want her to follow her heart and chase her dreams as opposed to settling for second best in life, love, or relationships.
And I want my sons (who are 22, 20, and 14) to grow up treating girls and women with respect and love; and to be the kind of young men who deserve the respect and love that is returned to them.