Walking through the hallways of Surrey’s Princess Margaret Secondary School reminds Meredith Graham just how far she has come.
“It was definitely a long ride to get there,” she said. “I wanted to graduate high school — like my family of origin hadn’t done — and I wanted to move forward and break those cycles and that was one of the hugest beginning steps.”
Graham grew up in poverty. She says she was physically abused by her birth mother and stepfather and forced to look after her two brothers. She was diagnosed with depression and obsessive compulsive disorder at the age of 13.
Extended interview: Courage to Come Back award winner Meredith Graham
In a desperate act to survive, she ran away from home. She says her time at Princess Margaret saved her life.
“I graduated while living in a group home,” she said.
Shortly after graduating in 2006, she suffered what she calls a bipolar break and she felt done with life.
“I thought that I was gone,” she said.
That was Graham’s lowest point, but something told her she needed to keep going.
“I realized that I really wanted to be an actor,” she said.
Graham graduated from Capilano University’s performing arts program, but it wasn’t enough. She wanted to give back.
She is finishing her child and youth counselling degree at Douglas College. She plans to get her doctorate and combine her two areas of study by opening a theatre therapy studio. She has also developed a peer counselling program at Douglas.
Graham now works at the group home she used to live in.
– With files from Randene Neill