This article originally appeared in a special report from The Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health.
The Royal is so fortunate to have champions across our community and around the world who volunteer their time to support the incredible mental health care and research that helps provide hope and transform lives.
I have lived with depression for so many years. There were some days when I was struggling with my depression that even taking a shower would seem to be an overwhelming task.
In January 2016 my intention was not to be here anymore and to take my own life. I had a full suicide plan in place.
As an Indigenous woman working in the community, I am extremely aware that suicide is an epidemic, especially with our youth, and I want to be a part of the change.
I have always admired The Royal and their part in helping those living with mental illness. I am thankful that they give people the opportunity to use our voice and help others.
I’m learning how to take better care of myself. You just have to hold on long enough and you will see it, despite how difficult it can be.
I started struggling with mental illness before I even knew what mental illness was.
At eight years old, I started restricting food intake and obsessing about my body and weight.
My eating disorder quickly became my life; there was simply no room for anything else.
By my mid-twenties, it was completely out of control. I began spiralling into a deep depression. I felt isolated, alone, lost and hopeless.
It was only through the support of friends and family, access to community services and lots of hard work and kindness towards myself that I was able to begin my journey to recovery.
I wish for anyone struggling to know that they are not alone, they don’t have to feel weak, ashamed or scared of admitting that they need help.
When I was finally able to accept that mental illness was a part of my life journey, it is almost as if I was able to take back my power.
You’re worth it. You matter. You are good enough. You are loved.
I was lucky. I was a smart kid, I got good grades and I used the veneer to fool everybody into thinking I was okay. I did that successfully. I ended up being valedictorian of my graduating class.
I never felt like I truly belonged though. When I went away to university, drinking was a massive social lubricant. Then drugs pushed that sense of false power further. It pumped me up and I felt great – until I didn’t. By then, I couldn’t stop.
I continued to create this masterful illusion for the outside world of who I was. Eventually, I would secretly have to twist, lie and steal to fuel my addiction.
I was in denial for a long time. There was so much guilt and shame in admitting that I was an addict.
When I lost my job, I lost my identity. In retrospect, it was precisely what I needed.
I am so grateful for my life now. I can be authentic for the first time. I no longer wear a false veneer of success. I can be vulnerable.
Get to know these champions: bit.ly/ChampionsofHope2021