Trigger Warning: The content below contains information on mental illness and suicide which some readers may find triggering. If you need support, please contact the Ontario Shores crisis line: 1-800-263-2679.
On March 1, 2016, at the age of 17, my youngest son Benjamin died by suicide. He had been suffering from mental illness since the age of 9. As he grew older his symptoms, stemming from OCD, turrets, and depression, became increasingly worse. Our family tried everything we could, but we ran into obstacles; from navigating the system to Ben refusing all medication and therapy. It all just became too much for him to bear.
"After my son's death, I became very depressed. I had trouble going to work, getting out of bed, and I started isolating myself. My family doctor grew concerned. Luckily, I was eligible to retire and I took that opportunity to seek treatment."
In the beginning, it was very hard. I had trouble accepting that I was depressed. I saw three different psychiatrists, had a strange reaction to various medications, and also tried an outpatient program - all of which, I was told, made my symptoms worse.
After 5 months of trying to find the right care, I was referred to the Ontario Shores Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP). PHP is an outpatient program where patients, who are going through a really hard time, have therapy sessions every day. I really responded to the mindfulness therapies which allowed me to put my mind in another place, and work back to feeling better.
For me, the best part about PHP was the Therapeutic Arts program. I had never done art before and initially mocked it. But one of the therapists patiently and gently pushed me towards painting, and now I am selling my paintings in support of the Ontario Shores Foundation.
After PHP, things started to come together. My oldest son moved home, I found out who my real friends were through their love and support, and I continued my education on mental illness by attending Recovery College at Ontario Shores.
I still meet with a suicide awareness group once per month and have started facilitating courses at the hospital for other patients. The pain of losing Ben will never go away, but the care and inclusivity I received, and continue to receive, at Ontario Shores has allowed me to see the light in the darkness.
Thank you so much to Mike for sharing his journey with us. To explore details on Recovery College >>