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Ontario Shores Saved Me

“Being able to use the outpatient services at Ontario Shores was a huge blessing to me and my family.”
Aaron Smith
Published Date

At times, I’ve taken a step back and looked through my life to try and determine where things started to go awry. 

My brother’s death was a huge catalyst into the start of my mental health journey. Before his death, I’d had people die who were close to me, but they had lived long lives. The loss of my brother hit me the hardest because it made me realize that I wasn’t invincible. 

I started on the medication Effexor in 2003, the same year I lost my brother. It was a weird situation to be taking medication for my mental health, as up to that point I had dealt with tough times through simple measures; taking hot showers, physical activity or talking with my parents. However, during this time I felt I needed to be there for my parents, especially my mother who blamed herself for his death. Focusing on myself was pushed aside. I was able to manage until 2004, when I ended up meeting a girl who showed interest in me. Interest was short-lived, as the relationship ended as quickly as it began. I went into a downward spiral, as the mounting losses left me overwhelmed. 

I swallowed an entire bottle of Effexor, a medication I was prescribed to treat my depression. I landed in the hospital where I spent four days in the Intensive Care Unit where I experienced grand mal seizures, among other ailments. When at the hospital, very little was done to deal with my mental health as I was placed in the mental health ward where I could partake in activities, but barely anything was done to promote healing.  Had I received the help necessary, I may have been able to address my mental health issues at a younger age. 

Not long after this, I jumped into a relationship with my now wife. Due to my downward spiral earlier, my personality was greatly affected. I was more irritable, less patient, and had low to zero tolerance. I managed on and off, but I really should have tackled my mental health problems sooner. Looking back from the beginning of our relationship until 2017, I saw myself as an abominable person. 

In 2017 I began taking Effexor again and did well until August of that year. My health deteriorated as feelings of isolation began to take hold. Eventually I began to self-harm, and again, I ingested an entire bottle of Effexor and was hospitalized. This time, hospitalization did result in one thing, I was able to find a medication that better suited me. My psychiatrist at the time had recommended the services at Ontario Shores, to which I agreed to have a referral sent in. Being able to use the outpatient services at Ontario Shores was a huge blessing to me and my family. 

The Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) skills group at Ontario Shores provided me with the following skills: distress tolerance, emotion regulation, mindfulness, and interpersonal effectiveness to enhance life skills. Without Ontario Shores in my life, things may have ended up quite differently but luckily this wasn’t the case, and I am living the best life right now. It isn’t perfect, and I still have my rough days, but I am much better than I was before going through Ontario Shores.

This story is part of our 2022 - 2023 Annual Report.  We announced the release of our report during our Annual General Meeting on Wednesday, June 14, 2023.  The report was created with input, support and contributions by a team with lived experience, who shared their journey at Ontario Shores.

The report highlights the organization's accomplishments and partnerships. We invite you to view the report by following the link here. We hope you find this report informative and insightful, and we welcome your feedback.