The Project

"All sorrows can be born if you put them in a story or tell a story about them."

According to narrative medicine, illness narratives are not merely accounts of symptoms but a mechanism through which people become aware of and make sense out of their experiences. A transformation takes place from something lived into something interpreted that is given structure and meaning. The Out of Darkness project was developed based on narrative medicine and recovery principles. In this project, five diverse men and women with bipolar disorder who were treated at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, Canada were interviewed about their experience of illness by a renowned health reporter and a detailed narrative was then constructed of their life story. Each narrative was accompanied by a 3-5 minute short film that sensitively depicts each person as a unique individual living with dignity despite suffering from a serious mood disorder. The goal of this multimedia project is to facilitate a more personalized and subjective understanding of bipolar disorder, to instill hope and resilience and to enhance compassion in the treatment of bipolar illness.

Ari Zaretsky MD FRCPC

Chief, Department of Psychiatry, and Vice President, Education, Sunnybrook Health Sciences CentreProfessor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto

the Creative Team

Gabrielle Glaser

Gabrielle Glaser is an author and award-winning journalist whose work on health, medical and cultural trends have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, and many other publications. In recent years, she has focused on stories that challenge the conventional wisdom on major social issues, especially those surrounding mental health. She's the author of three books, most recently Her Best-Kept Secret: Why Women Drink—And How They Can Regain Control, a New York Times bestseller. She looked at the reasons women are drinking more, and how the methods that help them if they find themselves drinking more than they want to be. The book was controversial because it questioned the value of 12-step treatment programs and revealed that many women were not helped and often harmed in Alcoholics Anonymous. Glaser expanded that argument in a 2015 piece for The Atlantic Monthly, “The Irrationality of Alcoholics Anonymous,” which became an online phenomenon. The story, which looked at the scant evidence for AA’s efficacy, has had millions of readers. Glaser’s work on topics from suicide prevention to alcohol and opioid addiction, reveal the need for more than one-size-fits-all answers to complex problems. She is currently at work on a book about the dark history of adoption in the U.S. following the decades after World War II.

Dorothy Engelman

Throughout her 35+ year career, Dorothy has won multiple awards as a TV producer/ writer for Q Media, CBC, CTV, Newsworld, TVO and Global. In 1999, she founded Q Media with partner Richard Quinlan. Dorothy was named a trailblazer by WXN as one of “Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women.” Her commitment to community has infused Q Media; which commits significant resources for pro-bono work every year.

Graeme Mathieson

Graeme is our award winning Creative Director who oversees the look and feel of every project. With over a decade in the industry he has a knack for making every client feel at ease. He ensures each project is custom designed, visually engaging and powerful. And while behind the camera, he has produced stunning and powerful material on shoestring budgets for SickKids, Wellspring, YMCA and New Balance. As a DJ by night (literally), he is our in-house music expert – finding the perfect track every time.


Project Conceived by

Dr. Ari Zaretsky Chief Department of Psychiatry and Vice President, Education Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

Special Thanks to

Dr. Ivan Silver and Dr. Allan Peterkin for their input and advice

Project Made Possible

With Generous Donations To Sunnybrook Foundation from
The Ganz Family and Dr. Brenda Smith

We wish to acknowledge and thank all of the people who have courageously shared their stories. This project is dedicated to increasing compassion towards those who suffer from bipolar illness.

Web Development

Vanquished Media