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Ontario Shores

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'The Skills, Tools and Guidance Have Given Me a Positive Mindset'

By Rachele
Patient Contributor

At just 15 years old, I began to notice that there was something wrong with my mental health. At this point in my life and during my high school education, mental illness was a taboo subject that most people didn’t openly talk about.

I felt like I was stuck, trying to deal with my emotions and battling the anxiety and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that started inhibiting my daily life.

I began treatment for my mental health when I was 18 but it didn’t seem to help me escape the rut I was in. I would go to my appointments, shelter myself, cry and leave. This took place for about a year.

I finally decided to seek further help I needed in order to manage my conditions so I started participating in the program more frequently. I can proudly say that I have been doing the CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) program at Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences (Ontario Shores) consistently for the last year. In the past, I received CBT treatment at a facility in Toronto for 4 years which I still participate in.

Ontario Shores’ CBT program taught me skills and gave me the tools I never knew I needed to manage my mental health and has completely changed my life for the better.

I found the most helpful component for me were the consistent activities I participated in. In particular, these activities helped me learn the skills I required to get back into something that was taken away from me due to my mental illness: hockey.

I played competitive hockey for team Ontario for almost 10 years, but I associated the sport with anxiety because it mocked the emotions I felt when I experienced anxiety attacks. I decided I had to part from it and ended up quitting at 18 years old. Through my therapist, Jennifer’s guidance, she was able to help me overcome these anxious feelings I associated with hockey to return back to the sport. It was through simple activities she taught me that helped manage my symptoms.

The activities allowed me to cope with my past and bring me to the present. Now I’m able to play the sport again because I know I can understand the feelings I felt and I can overcome them.

Jennifer was persistent with me during the program and always encouraged me to keep moving forward. I enjoyed going to my appointments and working through my handbook. Jennifer inspired me to strive to get better.

When I was 16 I had a traumatic dating event impact me so severely I was unable to trust men. I spoke about the incident with Jennifer and she completely guided me and reminded me that there are good people out there. She helped me and told me “not all men are bad, not everyone’s going to hurt you. There are good people out there.” Her words of wisdom allowed me to gain the strength I need to overcome the fear I once had about men that would come in to my life.

She also taught me to make a list of things that make me happy. On my list are friends, family, things I’m good at and grateful for.  The list is a constant reminder of where I am today. Whenever I am having a bad day, I look at my list on my phone and it makes me feel so much better.

The skills, tools and guidance I received from Ontario Shores have given me the positive mindset I have today and I am so grateful for this. I’m back on my feet and with Jennifer’s support, dedication and encouragement to help me get better, I am able to play hockey again. I feel much better knowing there’s something I’m good at that I love to do that helps me maintain my positive mental health.