Having grown up in a home filled with rage, violence and terror as a result of parental addiction, I’ve struggled for decades with anxiety and depression. In my twenties, after a sexual assault, I began to feel the full effects of clinical depression and the building of my anxiety disorder. I spoke to no one about my life struggles and as a result, began a quick and destructive decline into serious mental illness that resulted in a hospitalization for planning my suicide. Finally being in a position of receiving care, I realized that being hospitalized was the best thing that ever could have happened. I began seeing a psychiatrist, a psychologist and a social worker. I started receiving supports around my thoughts of suicide and my overwhelming anxiety. I started to share my story and eventually, started to live!
Today, I am a Program Facilitator for the Canadian Mental Health Association and run a program called “Beautiful Minds” which provides a four component mental health, mental illness and stigma reduction course to secondary school teachers to use with their students. Within the program, I also facilitate a presentation to each participating class which includes personal stories from volunteers within the community who have lived with the experience of having a serious mental health challenge, allowing students the opportunity to learn through others’ personal experiences.
My message and reason for why I do what I do is always the same: talk about it. Reach out for support. We’re not meant as humans to do it all by ourselves.