I am raising money to stop mental illness from destroying lives by participating in CAMHs One Brave Night for Mental Health, the all-night challenge to defeat mental illness.
This fundraising campaign is important to me because I want to see an end to the stigma and ignorance that surrounds mental illness. Without CAMH, I, and thousands like me, would not be here today to tell our story of what mental illness has done to our lives or speak about the wonderful work CAMH is doing in the fields of research and treatment.
Mental health is just as important, if not more so, than physical health. A decline in your mental health may adversely affect your physical health as well. So not only does mental illness destroy your mental health and possibly your physical health, it sabotages your relationships with family and friends. The thought of socialising may bring on a panic attack. Your career or your education suffer and eventually you are prevented from being productive in either activity. Your self-esteem is erroded and not only do you feel useless and worthless, you also feel like a burden. And it destroys marriages like mine.
Due to a number of traumatic events in my life, I was diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder, major depressive disorder and insomnia after my second suicide attempt in December 2013. In January 2014 I was diagnosed with panic disorder. Insomnia robbed me of desperately needed sleep. Depression tethered me to my bed while anxiety & panic disorder chained me to my house. Just the idea of having visitors in my home brought on panic attacks, so I just stayed in bed, the same bed I couldn't sleep in due to insomnia.
My second crisis came in December 2014. One night, I flat out asked my (now ex) husband, "why do I have to live"? I had an appointment with my psychiatrist the next day and was back on my medication. It was around this time that I began experiencing symptoms of renal failure. A visit with my nephrologist and the results from a renal biopsy revealed a 40% decrease in renal function. I was immediately placed on more medication to control the inflammation in my kidneys. So between my mental health medication and medication to control the inflammation in my kidneys, I suffered my third crisis, two in one year. I found my ex-husband's razor blades and was trying to work up the courage to cut my wrists.
That same week I saw my family doctor and told him that I didn't want to live as I had no reason to. He didn't mess around and had me admitted into CAMH that night.
Less than 24 hours after being admitted to CAMH, my inpatient psychatrist diagnosed me with post tramatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to horrific and traumatizing abuse in my childhood, my inpatient pharmacist straighted out my mental health medications and I was enrolled in their Mood and Anxiety program. Within that same week my nephrologist started to taper my medication for my renal disease.
Thanks to my time at CAMH, I can see a light at the end of a black hole that was my life. I successfully completed all three phases of their Mood and Anxiety program two years ago and it was the best thing that could have happened to me. To this day, I still use the tools I learned in that program. I have nothing but positive praise for the staff and facilitators at CAMH. I'm beginning to re-enjoy activities I had lost all pleasure in, discovering new activities that give me a sense of pleasure or accomplishment and, more importantly, a reason to live. They encouraged me to set goals for myself and work towards achieving them, and I'm happy to announce that one of my goals - returning to school - is now in progress. Graduation date - Summer 2018 (5 more months to go)!
I am very fortunate and extremely lucky to live where I live and be spoilt for choice in mental health care access. All Canadians should feel as fortune as I am which is why this campaign is near and dear to my heart.
By making a donation, you are helping CAMH improve access to care for people like me, conduct research to find better treatments, and build more spaces for healing.
Please make a donation today and help me reach my fundraising goal!
Thank you for your generous donation.