Aaron and I started our relationship at a difficult time in both of our lives; he was dealing with the recent loss of his brother, and we were both coming out of relationships. We were two wounded people who thought a new relationship would solve our problems.
Throughout the years we’ve had our share of ups and down, as I always felt I was being pushed away yet pulled back in at the same time. It was difficult to understand something you had no words for.
After going through so many difficult times in our relationship, in 2017 I felt we were at our best point in our marriage. Aaron and I were doing better financially, we were fighting less and communicating more, however our bliss was interrupted when Aaron was hospitalized due to self-harming that summer. It was a scary time for our family, and I didn’t know what to do or what to tell our kids I just knew that I had to be there to support my husband.
One of the good things that came out of Aaron’s hospitalization was his diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder, anxiety and depression. We now had something to call it which then meant we were able to look up ways of living with his diagnoses.
Eventually Aaron joined the Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) skills group at Ontario Shores. DBT is a type of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) that seeks to build upon the foundation of CBT to help enhance its effectiveness. It was a lot of work and with time I saw the effectiveness of his therapy on our family. He was more patient with our boys which put less stress on me. Our communication greatly improved as he was able to be more expressive with his thoughts and feelings. Rather than lashing out and pushing me away, he let me in.
It wasn’t all about fixing Aaron as I had to adapt my communication style to allow for him to heal and grow. I had to be introspective to identify the ways I could improve myself as well. I had to learn to slow my approach and to be more mindful of the words I was using when speaking with him.
Meeting with one of his counsellors allowed me to see how childhood affected who he became as a man. Through that conversation I also learned that it was important for me to create healthy boundaries with Aaron during time of conflict in order to protect my own emotional well-being. It was impactful for me to hear that while you support your loved one, having a standard for yourself is just as important.
Aaron having a diagnosed mental health condition is not an excuse, it’s an explanation. It allowed us to build a path and collect tools to make a healthy relationship and to build a stronger family unit. The Aaron I knew before Ontario Shores compared to now, is like night and day. There are still rough days, but we know how to navigate them together so that he is never alone in his mental illness.
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.