Brad: Hi I'm Brad and I stayed at Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences for 6 years. I think I first received signs when I was 14 but it took me until I was 19 to be diagnosed and hospitalized. When the doctor told me I had a mental illness my first reaction was denial. Sure I had problems. Maybe I was just shy. I think with my symptoms being paranoia, that could be the case. Then as I got sicker, I blamed myself for not being able to function on a breakdown. I had a breakdown that only could take time to get better. The relief I received from one pill made me realize I had an illness and that I needed medication. The first question I had was "how long do I need to stay in the hospital for?". I think most patients do not want to stay in hospital for very long.
Myself, I was industrious and I wanted to go to school. My illness kept me from doing so until I got better. It took a while but I have recently finished my first year at Trent University. To get me there I stayed in hospital, lived in a group home, attended programs and eventually lived in a subsidized apartment. And then there was another transition from the group home to my own place and that was an incredible feeling. I'm sure I just sat on my couch and just looked around for days thinking "this place is mine". It's so great to have success in something like that.
I have to say that I am independent, but I still have support. I see a doctor still along with two social workers. I think all-in-all the staff at Ontario Shores have big hearts. When you're sick sometimes you just want to sit down and talk to someone. You can talk to other patients of course but when you talk to someone from the community such as a nurse, it brings some normalness to the conversation. And then there is other staff that does extracurricular activities with you such as cooking or going out on outings.
I think Ontario Shores is the best hospital around. They have great facilities such as a swimming pool, pool tables, a gym, a weight room and they have beautiful grounds as you can see.
It's a tough one to swallow admitting that you have a mental illness but having trust in the hospital staff will get you better faster. The other thing is you should never feel ashamed. It could happen to anyone and having symptoms now does not necessarily mean that you will have symptoms in the future.
Me, I've been very sick at one point but because I took my meds I got better.
Many patients ask how long they will be in hospital for. Sometimes it could be a while but you can't look at it as wasted time. You have to look at it as you are getting better and moving on with your life. Pretty soon you'll be discharged and you might move into a group home and attend programs or you might move into your own place at attend work or school like I did.
When we do learn about mental illness it's the stigma and the steriotypes that we hear about but I know for a fact that mental illness can be treated and many patients move on to be successful.
Narrator: One in 4 Canadians is affected by mental illness in their lives. For more information about mental illness or Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences visit ontarioshores.ca