From anxiety and depression to hope, healing and dignity
I’m told I was once an outgoing child. What I remember is feeling different from my schoolmates. To suppress the unsettling feeling of not “fitting-in”, I turned inward, becoming shy and guarded. But my efforts proved unsuccessful. I constantly worried about not being accepted; professional success as a master tradesman and the love of my devoted partner, Doug, did little to lift my despair and anxiety.
I was hiding a terrible secret: severe bouts of depression left me unable to get out of bed for days on end. On those days I would call in sick and wait for the feeling to pass. It usually did – only to return – again, and again. I consulted a psychiatrist and was prescribed antidepressants. But the side effects made me abandon treatment.
I gave up. I just accepted that I would always feel terrible. I was wrong.
Year after year, my bouts of depression recurred, lasting from a few days to months at a time. Keeping busy helped me cope, but I couldn’t keep a job for long. Anxiety robbed me of all confidence and made working impossible. I felt crushed, caught in a spiral of depression and chronic sleeplessness that had been building for years. My mind was beating up on me, saying: “You’re stupid, you’re stupid”, and keeping me up night after night.
One bleak October morning, I tried to end my life.
Repeated attempts failed but didn’t dissuade me. It wasn’t until my partner – away on business – phoned, that I reconsidered. Sensing something was terribly wrong, he pleaded with me to let him help.
Doug took me to CAMH’s Emergency Department. I was admitted to the Mood and Anxiety Inpatient Unit and given intense treatment. For the first time in weeks, I was able to sleep. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) was especially helpful: I re-learned how to think – taking negative thoughts and building a more balanced perspective on life. Hope, so long out of reach, was restored to me.
CAMH offered me a place to heal. It’s not scary at all!
I was really lucky. At CAMH, I didn’t just receive the best treatment, my private bedroom, phone and bathroom helped me maintain my dignity and independence. CAMH thought of everything, I even got to participate in therapy in a simulation industrial workspace which helped me overcome my anxiety about work.
Thanks to CAMH, I’ve been able to successfully transition back into the community, back into the workforce and back to my family and friends. I’m happy. I can laugh at myself. Things have changed so much. Life is so much better now.
- Brad, former CAMH patient