2014 marked the 20th anniversary of the Business Development Department of Momentum. To celebrate, we collected 20 stories about past participants who have thriving businesses. Written by Marnie Schaetti of RaiDo Dynamics, these stories reflect the diversity, innovation and hard work of the inspiring participants who come through our doors every year to take one of our many programs.
This is one of those stories.
Entrepreneur Name: Elizabeth Anderson
Programs: Women’s Venture Program, Micro Business Loans, Venture Accelerator
Program Years: 2013, 2014
Business Description: Professional speaker, author and online resources on being mentally healthy.
Elizabeth Anderson is a published author and poet. She is an internationally known speaker. She has a happy, healthy marriage of more than 20 years. She has many friends. She runs a successful business. She is mentally healthy.
And she lives with schizophrenia every day.
The turning point in her life came after two years of marriage. She had gone from being a carefree, fun-loving, competent woman to being profoundly scared of her neighbours, unwilling to eat or sleep or shower, incapable of leaving the house. It was a total change of personality that left her husband confused and distressed. They sought help only after an old friend recognized that Elizabeth was in a psychotic state.
Diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, Elizabeth stayed in the hospital for six weeks. Her goals during recovery were very small at first: making her bed, doing the dishes, calling her mother. As her health returned, her goals got bigger: fix the marriage, contact a support group, get a job.
Five years later, she had achieved these goals. Her marriage was healed, she had started speaking for the Schizophrenia Society and she was working again. When Elizabeth was speaking to a nursing class at Mount Royal University one day, the professor told her that if she wrote her story, it could become a textbook. That was the nudge Elizabeth needed to start writing.
To turn her writing and speaking into a viable business, Elizabeth participated in the Women’s Venture program at Momentum. Their coaching and her determination were a winning combination. She graduated with confidence, knowledge and a clear plan about how to move forward. Her book is now read at universities and colleges across the province, and Elizabeth makes her living speaking professionally.
Running a business has given Elizabeth purpose, has improved her health and her marriage, and has demonstrated that she can be mentally healthy in spite of her mental illness.