Protecting Minds - 'I couldn’t come to terms that he was gone'

Life has been difficult over the last few years. Whenever I could catch a breath, devastating news would follow.

In January of 2018, my father passed away. My mother was sick as well and I fell into a deep depression. I didn’t leave my house, went on a sick leave from work and spent most of my days sleeping.

In the fall of 2018, I lost my oldest brother to suicide. I couldn’t come to terms that he was gone. I was suicidal and my family pressured me to get help.  I went to a walk-in clinic and I was referred to Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences (Ontario Shores).

Unaware to me at the time, this was the best thing that could have happened to me. Ontario Shores changed my life. 

I received weekly cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) and interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) with a clinician, and visits with my psychiatrist. Therapy was going well for a few weeks until I decided to stop going. It got to the point where I would be kicking and screaming when pressured to get out of bed and go. I didn’t want to live anymore.

It was January of 2019 and eventually I complied. I was transferred to the inpatient program where I stayed at Ontario Shores for five months. During this time, my mother was in the ICU and wasn’t doing well.

After months hopeful progress, she fell and fractured her hip. She was put in a wheelchair and her health deteriorated. She passed away on April 28, 2019. If it weren’t for the care I received at Ontario Shores I wouldn’t have been able to deal with my mother’s death.  

My healthcare providers went above and beyond to ensure I could reach recovery. My recreational therapist helped me get back into being physical. I could walk again and felt energized and felt joy in things I once loved.

I began the partial hospitalization program (PHP) at Ontario Shores and transitioned from an inpatient to outpatient. I was discharged in June of 2019. Sadly shortly after, my husband and I separated.

I got my own apartment in Oshawa, Ontario and my moods were completely lifted. I felt like a weight was taken off of my shoulders. In May of 2020 I returned to my role as a supervisor at my grocery store. I experienced the anxiety of returning to work during a pandemic. My coworkers were great and getting back into a routine where I could socialize every day was a huge step forward. 

I’m advocating for Ontario Shores because recovery is possible. I have lived experiences with the great work they do for people suffering with mental illness. If it weren’t for the care I received, I don’t think I would have made it to 39. There’s a reason I didn’t die.

I want to be the voice for my brother and mother. If they were able to get the treatment I received, I’m confident they would be alive today.

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.