Leslieville resident Shelley Marshall is inviting those who live with mental illness or those who could use a mental health day to attend a wellness play date at her Carlaw Avenue loft.
Marshall, an actor/writer/comedian and producer who lives with post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as anxiety and panic attacks, recently started opening up her spacious, light-filled space, which is known as the Full Bawdy Loft, as a mental wellness drop-in centre. She’s calling it the Mental Wellness Centre of Creation and Compassion.
“I want it to feel like a mental wellness spa. It’s not only for people who suffer from mental illness but for those who could use a mental wellness day,” said Marshall, who admitted the drop-in is also partly for her own mental wellness.
Seventeen years ago, Marshall attempted to take her own life and often finds her mental illness can be isolating. Being around others who are like-minded and positive is part of her journey to wellness.
Originally from Hamilton, Ont. Marshall – who has called east-end Toronto home for 10 years – is open about her life story and shares it in her critically acclaimed and award-winning solo show, Hold Mommy’s Cigarette: One woman’s story of an unfiltered life ...
She’ll be doing a short run of her play at the Full Bawdy Loft in early March.
Both Marshall’s drop-in as well as her play aim to give hope to others caught up in the stigma of being silenced.
The premise for Marshall’s new mental wellness centre is simple and always evolving. Most of all she hopes it will be a safe, welcoming, non-judgmental place for people to gather.
“Come as you are. We’re happy to welcome you and there’s no commitment,” she said late last week.
Moving forward, Marshall will be working with artists and creators to develop some programming and activities that celebrate the “madness of the mind by guiding it into creating value and purpose.”
Some of the activities that could take place in her wellness centre include: drumming, cooking, painting, journaling, wreath and candle making, knitting, furniture upcycling, photography, dancing, and yoga to name a few.
The drop-in can also be a place for people to have a coffee and a bite to eat, enjoy some quiet time, read a book, watch a movie, or have a great conversation.
“Basically, anything goes. The ideas are endless,” she smiled.
“The rest is just the magic, the unexpected. I have no expectations.”
At this point, the drop-in is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. when she not touring her play. Depending on her schedule, Marshall also plans on doing a Monday afternoon/evening session from 4 to 8 p.m.
“My hope is that eventually someone can run it when I’m not here,” she said.
Down the line, Marshall said her ultimate goal is to one day open a retreat centre where a range of activities would be offered including water therapy.
There is no admission fee to the Mental Wellness Centre of Creation and Compassion but those who attend are asked to “pay-it-forward” and contribute if they can so that others can benefit from the healing energy of Marshall’s space.
The Full Bawdy Loft is located at 290 Carlaw Ave., between Dundas and Queen streets.
Visit www.shelleymarshall.com/ for more information.