Lindsay is 31 years old and has struggled with depression since her teen years. After experiencing the traumatic loss of a friend, she experienced significant stress which showed up as physical symptoms. After medical consultations, when a physical root of the problem was ruled out, it was identified as a psychosomatic issue. Over the past few years, Lindsay has addressed the issue with the help of supports including DMHS. Here is her story.
In my teens, I had my first encounter with the mental health system due to a severe episode of depression. I became suicidal and was hospitalized at Centenary Hospital. I was prescribed anti-depressants which were effective in treating my symptoms, and things got much better for over a decade.
In my late twenties, I lost a dear friend and work colleague to suicide. In the wake of this, I pretty much shut down. I threw myself into my work and other distractions in order to take my mind off the pain. About six months later, the physical symptoms started to surface. I had swelling in my ankles, shortness of breath, unexplained pain throughout my body, migraine headaches, insomnia, gastrointestinal problems … the works.
I consulted many family doctor who suggested I reconnect with Centenary Hospital. From there, I was given new prescriptions to address anxiety and depression and I also joined their day program. Within three weeks I felt much better and I was able to reach out to Durham Mental Health Services and their Community Support program.
My Community Mental Health Worker introduced me to the full range of supports that DMHS offered. One service that appealed to me in particular was the WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) group. I was really nervous to join at first – scared about being judged, feeling maybe not sick enough to be there, not deserving of the service. I was really welcomed by the facilitators – I feel like they really took me under their wing.
Over the eight weeks, I gained insight into my symptoms and my warning signs of relapse and I was able to develop a concrete, individualized plan on how to respond when symptoms surfaced. I use the insights I gained and the plan I developed daily – for example, just this week I recognized the early warning signs of stress and I was able to respond in a healthy way by reaching out to supports and articulating my needs. I found people were responsive and before WRAP, I would have waited until I was in crisis and unable to cope and I would have ended up in the hospital.
Another DMHS program I valued was the New Leaf Day Program. I don’t attend daily but it is great to know I always have a place where I will be welcomed and supported.
Right now I am in my second semester of an Addictions and Mental Health diploma program at Centennial College. My goal is a career in the field facilitating support groups or day programs. I gained so much from these and I just really want to give back to my community and help those who find themselves struggling as I did.
DMHS really helped me see, “It’s going to get better.” I was in a place that was so deep and so dark that I couldn’t see the light. At DMHS, I was constantly reminded that the light is there and I learned skills and strategies to move towards it. I am still on that journey today, but I carry a strong sense of hope that helps guide me even when challenges come up.