Bird therapy

September 23, 2015 | God at work in Us | Volume 19 Issue 19
J. Neufeld,

When Ken Reddig was too depressed to get out of his chair, he sat at his window and watched birds. In winter, the nuthatches squabbled over dropped seeds. In summer, the hummingbirds jostled for a place at the feeder. “Summer and winter, there was constant activity that kept me entertained, but also inspired,” he says.

Reddig has spent much of his life struggling with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from abuse he suffered as a child. These days he is able to talk about it with humour and candidness. “Recovery is in most cases a lifelong thing, but you get to the place where you can live a reasonable, fruitful, faithful life,” he says.

Reddig, who is retired and lives in Pinawa, likes to photograph birds. This year he’s entering six photos in an art exhibit for people who are living with, or recovering from, a mental illness. “Expressions: Exploring recovery through the arts,” opens on Oct. 2, 2015 at 7 p.m. at the Steinbach Cultural Arts Centre, and runs until Nov. 2. Admission is free and everyone is welcome.

“I’ve had my issues,” says Reddig. “Am I healed? Probably not. Am I on the road to healing? Yes.” Reddig says he has been helped by an excellent psychiatrist at Eden Mental Health Centre in Winkler, as well as by his very supportive wife Willa and his friends. And, of course, the birds. “Sometimes you need something that gets you beyond yourself and your depression,” he says. “I really feel I owe birds big time.”

See more of Ken’s story at “Helping to prevent suicide.”

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