Baring her soul with a fiery passion
Mental health advocate’s latest book a therapeutic experience
As the title of her latest book might suggest, Angela Taylor continues to blaze a trail.
Taylor is the founder and chief executive officer of Inspire Community Outreach, a Fort Rouge-based, non-profit social services agency that provides family centred education and programming designed to meet the needs of individuals living with mental health issues and neurological or cognitive differences.
The Southdale resident’s book is titled Forever on Fire: A Love Letter to Never Fitting In and is self-published by FriesenPress. In the book, the longtime mental health advocate draws on her own experiences and trauma and explores, in her words, what it means to be wired differently and what it means to be what experts describe as neurodiverse.
Taylor’s account of self-discovery offers a fresh perspective on living with mental illness while learning to thrive, and on how neurodiverse individuals have unique attributes and abilities that should be celebrated.
In Forever on Fire: A Love Letter to Never Fitting In, the southeast Winnipegger shares personal anecdotes and journal entries, plus her own poetry and artwork to share with readers her journey of discovery, healing and supporting communities.
“It’s OK to be wired differently,” said Taylor, who was among those named a Manitoba Hero in 2019.
“It’s about loving yourself, even when you feel you don’t fit in. Being neurodivergent, there have been times when I’ve felt differently and felt like I didn’t fit in.”
Taylor said writing the book was a therapeutic experience, not least because she talks about some of the life-altering events in her early life, including growing up in the foster care system, the serious issues her parents dealt with, her mother’s suicide, raising her younger sister, and surviving a toxic marriage.
“I’m very open about my life. Being so open is what heals me the most. I’m inspired by how people survive certain situations, and everyone has their highs and lows. This book was born out of requests from the community, and it helped give me a purpose and a reason to keep moving. When I look at what I’ve been through in life, I have a lot to be grateful for now,” she said.
Noting the word neurodivergent is an umbrella term that can encapsulate many overlapping conditions, Taylor — who is halfway through doing a PhD — said it can include ADHD, autism, bipolar disorder, dyslexia, epilepsy, and schizophrenia, to name but a few.
Taylor hopes readers will take something away from the book, and she emphasized there’s some humour within its covers, too, with more than one potential laugh provided by a year’s worth of journal entries chronicling her online dating experiences.
“I hope people laugh and also have hope about life. No matter how bad some days can be, things can get better. We can learn skills at any time to improve our lives, and sometimes it can take years to execute change.”
Go online at supportingcommunitytogether.com for more information about Taylor.
Visit inspirecommunityoutreach.ca to learn more about Inspire.
Simon Fuller is a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review. Email him at email@example.com or call him at 204-697-7111.