Garrett is a baseball fan and former baseball coach. He enjoys hiking and outdoor activities. He also enjoys helping New Winds Day Program members learn about computers. At the age of 12, Garrett was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called Klinefelter Syndrome, which is associated with mental health diagnoses including depression and anxiety. In and out of hospitals from the age of 16, Garrett eventually got his symptoms under control and now lives a rich, rewarding life with the help of DMHS supports.
Here is his story.
I remember being depressed from an early age. At age 14, I attempted suicide by ingesting Tylenol on school grounds. A teacher intervened and stopped me. That was the first of several suicide attempts.
Part of the treatment for Klinefelter Syndrome involves regular testosterone injections, and these made me overly aggressive. In my teens, I bounced from school to school due to a series of aggressive incidents.
My parents couldn’t handle me anymore and I ended up in Covenant House, a youth homeless shelter in Toronto, for several years. I remember Covenant House as a safe place to stay but I was so heavily medicated, that I slept most of the time.
When my nana died, I lost a major connection to Toronto. I made the decision to move to Durham Region. My doctor in Toronto had referred me to DMHS. My Mom set up an Intake appointment and I was connected to DMHS’ Community Support program.
My Community Mental Health Worker linked me to the DMHS Day Program and put in a referral to DMHS Residential Services. When I walked through the Day Program doors, I had never felt so accepted in my life. That welcoming reception made me want to keep on coming back.
Within a short time, I moved into McKay House. It was great – my roommate and I became great friends (even to this day). The staff were all great – they knew how to talk to me, and to talk me down from anger. I felt safe and supported and I also learned valuable skills, such as how to cook.
Eventually, I worked my way through the whole Residential program – from McKay to medium-support-housing to low-support-housing and ultimately into my own place. I stumbled the first time I lived on my own – wasting my money gambling. McKay House took me back in.
The second time I moved out I was more successful and I have lived independently ever since.
A major support for me is DMHS’ New Winds Day Program and the Peer Support services offered there. They are happy to see you when you come in in the morning – I’m so thankful for everything they’ve done, and they’ve told me, “What makes us happy is you coming every single day.” Each night, I go to bed looking forward to getting up and going to New Winds, and joining my second family there. It’s somewhere where “everybody knows your name” – it’s a place I belong.
Every support I’ve received from DMHS has been terrific. I ask myself, “Where would I be without them?”