Sam* rests her fingers at her piano keyboard, musical notes spread out in front of her. Nearby, her two cats wander through her Kitchener apartment on a quiet Tuesday afternoon. At her keyboard, she comes alive – already, she is a world apart from where she once was just a few years ago.
“I was about 18 or 19 years old, and I was on a year off of school. All of a sudden, I heard that my dad was in an accident, and nobody was there at the time,” she says. “It was very traumatic. I had already been diagnosed with depression at the time, so that [just] made things worse.”
Sam’s symptoms progressed as she left home for school, separated from her family.
“It wasn’t until years later that I got on medication, and I realized that my diagnosis was something more than depression.”
“I had struggled with making friends and keeping friends, and it wasn’t until years later that I got on medication, and I realized that my diagnosis was something more than depression,” she says. “The thoughts that were going through my head were rapid thoughts and anxious thoughts – thoughts that people were out to get me.”
At the same time, she says, her relationship back home had waned.
“I wasn’t in communication with my family at the time,” she says.
Eventually, Sam was referred to CMHA Waterloo Wellington and met with workers from the Flexible Assertive Community Treatment (FACT) Team. In time, things started to take a turn for the better.
“My mom came back into my life when I joined the CMHA, and that was a big turning point to me,” she says, “because my mom accepted me, and she understood.”
She came to enjoy her meetings with the CMHA staff, and she kept noticing progress as she opened up.
“My happiness level went up. I was doing better in school; I was making friends; I was coping better.”
“I could relay my thoughts and feelings to somebody, and it was just a brain thing that was going on, and that’s all it is – and you want to treat it the same way you treat any other physical issue that is happening,” she says. “My happiness level went up. I was doing better in school; I was making friends; I was coping better.”
Things are never perfect, she stresses.
“I do get anxious from time to time, and the thing with recovery is that there will be [times] where you [might] go back to a state that you were in before, but it doesn’t have to be forever,” she says. “You can use your coping tools to strengthen yourself and get yourself out of whatever state of mind you’ve gotten yourself into. So of course, there are those moments, but there are also moments of, Wow, I’m really proud of who I’ve become, and I’m moving forward with my life.”
*In order to protect the individual’s privacy, their name has been changed.