Protecting Minds - 'Mental illness controlled my life until I asked for help'

I’m a separated, 37 year old father living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and chronic depression. 

Growing up, I was abused mentally, physically and sexually by people I thought I could trust.

Mental illness controlled my life until I asked for help following a suicide attempt 10 years ago.

After 27 years, I finally sought help and realized it’s okay to feel the emotions I felt. Asking for help is normal and dealing with mental illness isn’t something to be ashamed of. I was prescribed various medications until we found ones that worked at helping me manage my moods and behaviours. 

I have four children – three of which I don’t see due to a messy separation with their mother. During the last few years, I went through a depressive state. Luckily, my youngest daughter has helped lift my moods when days seem very dark and it feels like everyone is against you.

I live in Fenelon Falls, Ontario and therapy resources are very far from me. Being able to talk with my daughter brings me happiness. She reminds me that I belong in this world and I have purpose.

Currently, I work as a server at a restaurant. Amidst the pandemic, it’s easy to experience negative thoughts and emotions during the chaos. I try my best to stay calm and focused when customers are frustrated and talking back. I come home feeling depressed sometimes but speaking with my daughter helps me to mellow out.

I’m working at getting my life back on track. I’m hoping to return to school at some point and get my education, but for now I am taking small steps in the right direction. I’m in a much better head space than I was 10 years ago and am grateful I’m finally at this point in my life.

I want to be the voice for others who refuse to get help due to the stigma associated with it. That’s why I’m advocating for Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences (Ontario Shores). I want others to feel comfortable in talking openly about mental illness. It’s important I share my story. 

Being able to recognize my moods and behaviours and realizing I needed to talk to someone about it was the first step forward in reaching healing.

I want others to know they aren’t going through their battles alone. I hope that my story impacts someone else and they too can seek the help they need in living a joyful and purposeful life.

Everyone can be affected by mental illness regardless of their gender, role, or financial status.

I want to encourage everyone to support Ontario Shores so people can access the resources and tools they need, when they need it.

Beginning during Mental Illness Awareness Week and throughout October, Ontario Shores and the Ontario Shores Foundation for Mental Health are embarking on a fundraising campaign to support programs and initiatives that assist people living with mental illness. Participants from all over Ontario volunteered to share their personal connection with mental illness to reduce stigma and increase funding for much-needed programs. Learn more at www.ProtectingMinds.ca.