I was studying at Carleton University when I first started experiencing depression and anxiety. Being on my own for the first time and dealing with the workload from my studies created a lot of stress. I ended up failing a course that I needed to complete my degree and I felt that my academic career was in jeopardy.
In my head, I had an idea of how things were supposed to go. I would finish school and then work and family would follow. I had a fixed notion of what it would take to be successful or happy, and when that went off course, I found myself struggling.
It seemed that every time I took a step forward – for example, taking a summer course or stretching my studies out for an extra year – I would end up experiencing a set-back due to beating myself up and struggling with chronic low self-esteem. The way my life was unfolding didn’t match up with the idea I had in my head.
One thing seemed to compound another – my difficulties with school led to troubles in my social life also, and I reached the point when I started secluding myself. My parents were a close support to me during this time and they and the counsellors I was seeing suggested I postpone my studies. At that time, I came home to Pickering, feeling crushed and feeling like giving up. I wanted to hide away and just disappear.
When I moved home, my family doctor recommended me to a psychiatrist and I was connected to a social worker as well for short-term counselling. In turn, they encouraged me to reach out to the COPE support group for depression and anxiety, which I have regularly attended ever since. I have also attended the day program at Rouge Valley Ajax-Pickering, where I met some really good people and was able to come to terms with my situation and see that the vision of success I had in my mind wasn’t the only path for me.
The next step forward was to find a new direction in life. It was through the COPE support group that I was connected to DMHS. I found the idea of one-on-one support in moving forward very appealing. At the time I called DMHS, I was in a rough patch due to not finding steady work and I was falling backwards – not seeing my psychiatrist, not taking my meds, secluding myself. The support I received at DMHS encouraged me to start taking better care of my health.
They helped me set a series of sensible and achievable short-term goals: reconnecting with my psychiatrist, getting back on my meds, finding reasons to get out of the house, securing an income source and completing an Ontario Works life management program. Through this all, a little bit of self-esteem and confidence came back.
My goal now is to find steady and rewarding employment. Things seem to be moving forward in a positive direction. I realize now that “success” is a day-to-day journey, not an ideal destination like I saw it before. It’s like a heart monitor – life will have its ups and downs but throughout those I can maintain a good, positive, optimistic baseline.
I’m thankful for the support I’ve received from DMHS and other organizations. Dealing with depression and anxiety is a long, complex process, but DMHS has been there to help keep me on track and to find my pathway forward.