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My family life growing up was very pleasant. I enjoyed warm and loving relationships with my parents and my sister (my only sibling). My Dad used to cycle with me and go for walks; we spent a lot of time together. My Mom taught me computing; she’s very active in her church and she passed that interest along to me.

IMG_4615Back in 2009, I started showing symptoms of mental illness. It was a scary, confusing and frustrating time. I was having bad thoughts – thoughts of harming myself, paranoid thoughts towards people I felt had done me wrong, hearing voices from the radio and TV. I couldn’t focus, I felt depressed and I had no energy or motivation.

My family noticed that I was in distress and took me to Lakeridge Health Oshawa for a psychiatric evaluation. I was admitted, diagnosed with schizophrenia, and began treatment. Medication brought my symptoms under control and I returned to my family home.

In 2011, I experienced a relapse and was readmitted to hospital. Upon discharge I moved into my own place but I struggled, both with symptoms and with managing the household. It was felt I could benefit from more support and I was referred to Durham Mental Health Services’ residential program. When the time was right for me, I moved into McKay House, DMHS’ highest support home.

I felt safe and supported at McKay House – you can talk to people, everyone is friendly, you have a chance to work on your independent living skills. Eventually, I moved to lower support housing, and I am about to relocate to Smith House, which is only staffed a few hours daily.

During my time at DMHS, I have become much more confident as I built my skills and advanced my recovery. I’m hopeful about the future. I have strong relationships with my family, who are still a big part of my life.

My goal is to return to school – I’ve completed my Architectural Technology diploma and would like to pursue a new degree in Environmental Sciences. I also look forward to getting my own place, as I feel I would be much more successful now with all that I have learned at DMHS.

The staff at DMHS are so supportive. They listen to me when I’m not feeling well and they link me to programs that assist me in my recovery, such as DMHS’ Whitby day program and Ontario Shores’ Recovery College. I’m feeling better now than at any time since my diagnosis. I just want to say thank you to DMHS for helping me get to this place in my life.