Faces in the Crowd – Unlocking The Mysteries

Posted on May 26, 2016 under Faces in the Crowd with no comments yet

Patrick Chisholm 2


“Art is a special endeavour. It makes me feel good. It makes me feel well.”

Meet Patrick Chisholm.

The youngest of twelve in a family from Georgeville, Patrick had a happy childhood. He was born with an inquisitive nature. He would wrap himself in a black cape and swoop into his bedroom, which was his magical kingdom. He loved his mother’s baking, especially the tail ends of the dough which she would cover in butter and sugar and bake in the oven.

Like many children living in the country, he couldn’t take part in many organized sports in town as transportation was always an issue. He loved playing softball.

Even as a child he was conscious of the environment. No wetland or stream would escape his gaze. “I found it a spiritual experience, and even today I stop at bridges to peer down at running water below.”

The school years were not his best, and in junior high he fell in with a bad crew. It was a period of searching and experimentation, which made it a challenging time. Even on the best of days he didn’t feel quite right in body and mind. Shortly after the start of grade 10, he called it quits with schooling and went to get medical help. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia. For years afterward he was disappointed by his lack of formal education. “It wasn’t that I didn’t want to learn. I was just too sick to go to school.”

One of his greatest thrills later in life was earning his GED.

He was hospitalized frequently over a period of years until the doctors found a treatment that worked. “My head started to clear for the first time in years. It gave me a new lease on life.”  He was able to get certificates in small engine repair, cabinet-making and adult psychology.

He also discovered that he felt better when he was helping others, and became a loyal volunteer for several charities, including the Food Bank and St. Vincent de Paul.

A chance meeting with Gerry MacGillivray was a game changer. The well-known artist took Patrick under his wing. He taught him about shapes and lines and, most importantly, how to feel good about himself through artistic expression. “Even during my darkest times, art was there to sustain me.”  Gerry taught him how to view the world (and himself) differently.

Patrick is a mainstay of the nationally acclaimed theatre troupe, The Park Bench Players.  He and his colleagues have done a masterful job helping the public to accept and understand the challenges and gifts that encompass mental illness … 64 shows and counting!  The trip to Vancouver to receive a major award was a thrill of a lifetime, and the first time that Patrick had flown.

“I have accepted my lot in life,” he says without a tinge of regret.

Those who know him well, speak with admiration.

“He is deeply reflective, compassionate and courageous, and he is wise – his wisdom being distilled from years of complex adversity.”

“I feel confident that he (Patrick) has the ear of God and that his prayers are powerful.”

“Pat reminds me of my grandfather, not a man of many words, but when he does decide to say something listen up ‘cause he’s full of wisdom.”

And what’s next? “I am taking a locksmith course and hope to operate a mobile lock repair business someday.”

He should do very well as he continues to unlock many of life’s mysteries.

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