From the time Eric was a young child he was involved in the sport of judo, he experienced his first concussion at just five-years old and received multiple over his competitive career. With the highs of competing at a junior national judo level also came the lows of dealing with depression at 15 years old. By 18 years old Eric started experiencing psychosis, he was in and out of hospital for six months before he started CMHA WW’s First Step program. This introduction was critical to Eric’s recovery.
For three years, Eric learned life skills and rebuilt social skills on top of receiving mental health supports. Near the end of the three years with the First Step program, Eric relapsed and was transferred to CMHA WW’s FACTT (Flexible Assertive Community Treatment Team). Mental illness recovery is not always a straight line, Eric’s advice to people who are struggling is, “do small things every day to work towards recovery. Even when you cannot see the hope, you have to get up each day and look for it. The staff at CMHA WW are incredible, the multi-faceted aspect team-based care is so helpful, there is a full roster of staff to help you with everything you need to recover.”
During the FACTT program, Eric learned CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) which helped with strategy building to maintain his mental health. That was two years ago, thanks to the skills learned and support received through CMHA WW, Eric was able to upgrade classes through an adult learning centre and then go to college. “I was able to rebuild confidence and learn time management. I am now attending Laurier University and taking Psychology. School is the new judo for me; it is something I can really work at. I want to give back in some way to the mental health field.”
Eric’s story is full circle recovery; he just finished a student placement with the First Step program helping with Family Education. “I shared my lived experience, how I have watched myself and other people overcome psychosis. It gives families hope knowing that recovery can happen. Healing from psychosis takes time for medication and the skills to work.”
“My career goal is to make a difference in the field of mental health and work with individuals who have experienced mental health issues. I have the unique experience of making people feel comfortable as a peer who has been through what they are going through. It is helpful to have someone validate your experience and help you to keep going. You have to keep working at recovery. Promotion and prevention and maintaining your health, once you are better it does not stop – everyone should work towards bettering themselves. I continue with private counselling and medication managed by my family doctor.”
If you are in crisis or wish to discuss whether CMHA has the right service for you, call Here 24/7: 1-844-437-3247 (HERE 247).
Learn more about mental health, read inspiring stories and news, find out about upcoming workshops and training sessions, sign up for our newsletter here.
The Canadian Mental Health Association Waterloo Wellington (CMHA WW) provides programs and services for those with complex mental health and addiction issues. We serve everyone from infants to seniors. CMHA WW is the largest CMHA branch in Canada and has over 400 staff in 9 locations across Waterloo Wellington. CMHA WW offers a full continuum of care, from Mental Health Promotion right through to intensive team based care.