Stories of Change

Wendy's story

submitted by Lyn Firth, forever loving mother of Wendy Kitt

My 35 year old daughter Wendy struggled on and off with mental health and addiction issues from her vulnerable late teens when she was introduced to heroin at the hands of her first love. She was a sensitive, loving, ambitious, strong willed and feisty spirit who realized the path she was on was not for her so she did manage to leave heroin behind ... temporarily.

Wendy struggled with unresolved family issues and a hereditary pre-disposition to addiction. Intervention and support in the turbulent teens would have been the best time to help her… but who makes this call? She sought counselling, but it was not enough. She was open about using marijuana to manage and find relief from her anxiety, but kept secret from her family that she was continuing to go back to opioids when life became too challenging.

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Wendy's story
Wendy's story

Glad you are here today

submitted by an anonymous author, Vancouver BC

There have been many years where I have not fully expressed what I have been through in my life – to many they only see the uplifting, positive, laughing at his own jokes first, smiley guy that doesn’t seem to have any worries. Part of me felt ashamed for having self –harming/ suicidal thoughts 10 years ago…this is no longer the case.

Writing this was sparked by a transformational multi-day personal development event I attended earlier this year. I went with a positive open mind but wasn’t totally sure what I was going to learn – sure, eat better, work out more, work less…but what else? As it turns out – I learned a tonne more!

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glad you are here today
Glad you are here today

Never a Productive Member of Society

submitted by Erin Emiru, Vancouver BC

Imagine you are in a swimming pool - the deep end - and you don't know how to swim. You flail and kick and all your resources are desperate for a gasp of air. You are drowning. But imagine, then, that there is a table placed in the water, one you can climb onto and get your head above the waters. Your life is no longer be focused on bare survival - you can now breathe, and talk, and even sing... you can ask for help, express your needs, and find more to your life than not knowing if you can rise above the deadly depths.

For me, that table is medication. Without it, I drown in my schizophrenia.

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Never a Productive Member of Society
Never a Productive Member of Society

Let’s Get There Before Stage 4

submitted by MJ, Vancouver BC

I noticed the beginning of my struggles with mental health as having immense worry and anxiety that bad things were going to happen. The anxiety grew into an increasing fear of contamination that triggered obsessive hand washing and avoidance of places and touching things. Growing up in a family with parents that struggled immensely with their ability to parent, I found myself living my younger years in the wake of adversity. At the time in which I began overeating to find comfort when loneliness and misery would surface, I was not aware that this was a problem. Retrospectively, I see this as the beginning of my eating disorder. I began to be suicidal around the age of thirteen when things in my home had escalated and when my lack of safety became pertinent to me. I left home at the mere age of fifteen seeking a place of security, to later be placed in foster care residing in a group home.

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Let’s Get There Before Stage 4
Let’s Get There Before Stage 4

Defining success differently

submitted by Susie, Vancouver BC

My name is Susie and I have struggled for years with alcohol addiction.  I have had long periods of abstinence and have had some success in Alcoholics Anonymous.

But I have repeatedly relapsed and when I tried to quit cold turkey again, I found the period of agitation, restlessness and sleeplessness afterward so difficult it would interfere with my work.  I also beat myself up a lot and so envied others in the group who could proudly share they’d been 10 or 20 years without a drink.  It seemed so unattainable to me, it just made me feel worse.  The cravings would return and feeling so worthless, I would drink again.

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Defining success differently
Defining success differently

The right thing to do

submitted by Holden C., Vancouver BC

“This is not about politics. It’s simply the right thing to do.” - Demi Lovato addressing the DNC on the need for mental health investment and policy change

This system is broken.

There I was again, locked in a seclusion room on the second floor of a psychiatric facility. Trapped in a dilapidated hospital ward. I was a “frequent flyer”. That’s what the nurses called us – the patients unable to break the cycle of repeat hospitalizations. Unable to exit the revolving door. We had fallen through the system’s cracks. We deserved better.

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The right thing to do
The right thing to do

A light at the end of the tunnel

submitted by UBC President Santa J. Ono

Mental health is a significant issue: one in five Canadians will have a mental health problem or illness this year. While conversations about mental health are now happening more frequently, many people are reluctant to talk about mental health, with 4 in 10 Canadian workers saying they would likely ignore or hide a mental illness diagnosis.

That is why I am heartened by the CMHA BC’s b4stage4 campaign, with its focus on prevention, early identification and early intervention.

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A light at the end of the tunnel
A light at the end of the tunnel

A Light That Never Dies

submitted by Nicole Clarke

On January 25, 2017, beloved son, brother, father, lover, uncle, cousin and friend, Daniel Zorn, passed away. He was 44 years old and left behind a beautiful daughter and a legion of family and friends who remember him not as an addict, but as a source of fun, kindness, and lightheartedness.

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A Light That Never Dies
A Light That Never Dies

A newfound hope

submitted by Paula Roumeliotis, Victoria BC

I attended the CMHA b4stage 4 conference in Victoria in November 2016 and it was so encouraging to hear about the focus being on the importance of accessible and early treatment and supports for people living with mental health and substance use issues. You see, I’ve been living with a mental illness for over 35 years and if these options had been available to me when I first started struggling as a teenager, my life could have been completely different.

Now don’t get me wrong - I am grateful for my recovery today and I have realized that living with a mental illness does not limit me and that I am not my diagnosis. I am living a fulfilling life that I never dreamed possible but it was a long time coming.

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A newfound hope
A newfound hope

If...

submitted by Evelyn, Coquitlam BC

If there had been early intervention:
My symptoms of anxiety at age eleven may have been recognized and treated appropriately.

If there had been early intervention:
My adolescent depression might not have turned into a psychotic depressive episode. The horrifying feelings of paranoia, my bizarre delusions, and the loss of control of my own thoughts could have been explained and I may have been helped instead of being abandoned to deal with it on my own -- at the age of fifteen.

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If there had been early intervention...
If...

Read the blog at #b4stage4
Stories of Change
It's time we value mental health and addiction equally to physical health. Sign the @cmhabc #b4stage4 manifesto: