Laura Burke: DBSA 2011 National Conference Keynote
Laura Burke suffered from depression for most of her life, until she found the theatre. Although she still intermittently struggled with her extreme sensitivity and vulnerability to low moods, acting allowed her to give a voice to her life experiences. Laura was diagnosed with schizophrenia disorder in 2005, which robbed her of the ability to feel any emotion except anxiety and fear, and her acting career was halted in its tracks. After spending a year debating whether or not she would be able to continue with theatre, she finally began to create again. She saw a drama therapist, painted, began writing poetry and joined a theatre troupe. Finally, years later, after surrounding herself with a supportive network and following a creative path once again, her brain and her heart have begun to heal.
In 2007, Laura joined the Peer Support Staff at Laing House, where she ran drama and writing groups. In 2009, she was a Peer Support Facilitator at the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia, where she facilitated two support groups. She has volunteered at the NS Early Psychosis Program, and has spoken at several conferences and events about mental health advocacy and recovery. She has performed her spoken word poetry widely, including competitively at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word in 2009. In 2010, Laura started her MA in Drama Therapy at Concordia University in Montreal, where she hopes to learn how to help mental health consumers to increase emotional and cognitive flexibility through improvisation and other forms of creative expression.
Most recently, Laura shared her spoken word poetry and her journey through mental illness in “Superman A Visual Poem,” a video produced in association with the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia. Click here to view this touching and inspirational video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23a18HKYLW4&feature=recentlik