Rebecca is an athletic woman in her mid-20s who loves expressing herself creatively through poetry, music and journaling. She was born in Scarborough but moved to Durham Region as a young child. She loves to walk by Lake Ontario and would like to travel to Africa. As a budding photographer who completed an educational co-op with a professional photographer, she thinks Africa would be a wonderful place to photograph.
At the age of 14, Rebecca got her first mental health diagnosis – major depressive disorder. She was later also given a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder. The road since then has included struggles with addictive drugs and repeated hospitalizations. Today, Rebecca is clean and sober (for over 10 months) and with the help of DMHS Residential Services and Lakeridge Health Oshawa’s Pinewood Centre, she is building the life she wants to lead. Here is her story.
My home life as a child was really good until about the age of 12 when they had a really bad separation. I started skipping school, doing drugs such as ecstasy and LSD, eventually progressing to opiates, and just trying to hurt myself in any way I could. An older friend who had her own experiences with mental illness saw that something was wrong and went to the school principal to get me the help I needed.
I started seeing the school counsellor once a week. She linked me with a psychiatrist and that’s how I got my first diagnosis. Although I was connected to a psychiatrist, I wanted no part of it – I didn’t believe there was anything wrong and I didn’t follow through on treatment.
Around the age of 19 or 20, I realized that mental health support was something that I needed. I felt that there was something wrong with me, but I didn’t want other people knowing that.
My school counselor connected me to the Methadone Clinic and from there I got linked up with Pinewood. These were the only supports I accepted, even though ultimately I didn’t just need help with addiction, I needed help with the underlying mental health issues that were the reason I used drugs in the first place (self-medicating).
I was in the detox one day at Pinewood and they suggested I go to DMHS Crisis Services. The first time I went to Crisis Services I signed in and then signed out within an hour – the same person who did my intake did my discharge.
It was getting a diagnosis of BPD that made me say, “OK – I need to deal with this. I’m going to do something about it.” Another, longer stay at Crisis Services got me connected to DMHS Supportive Housing. Within a year, I had moved into McKay House. At first, I didn’t like it and wanted no part of it. I moved out in November and got surgery for a serious neurological condition. I moved out because I felt myself getting comfortable and that scared me – it was a new experience for me. I had trouble trusting anyone.
Back at home, I felt that I needed more support and thought to myself, “Maybe this could be helpful.” So I returned to McKay House in March and now I’m allowing myself to trust people for the first time.
I’ve been clean and sober since June 15, 2015. I now have the insight and encouragement to get back on track if I find myself slipping. I have healthy long-term goals now – eventually I would love to be a Peer Support Worker, but I am taking things one step at a time. I’m working on songwriting with a musical partner. My relationship with my family is better this past year than I ever remember it being. With the help of DMHS and other supports, I’m looking forward to a bright future!