"Maintaining good health should be the primary focus of everyone" - Sangram Singh
The committee helps to advise and make recommendations ensuring clients receive the highest quality of care.
I am a former registered nurse (RN), previously working on an Acute Mental Health Unit. In 2012, I was critically injured by a mental health client. I am also a traumatic brain injury survivor, with a diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety disorder.
I received psychosocial care to assist in my recovery but had to endure the long waiting lists for care. During the waiting period, I managed to get into some bad situations, resulting in crisis after crisis, until I reached rock bottom where I alienated myself from my loved ones.
Lost and severely depressed, I finally reached out to a previous co-worker, who along with my family doctor, admitted me to St. Joseph's hospital. Here, I finally received counseling and access to workshops such as cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) and dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT). This therapy assisted in getting me on the right track to feeling better about myself.
Today, I work on my self care and mindfulness on a daily basis, attend workshops, and I am a member of the client advisory committee with Niagara Region Mental Health.
Self care does not come easily to me. My psychiatrist and family physician hold me accountable to making ME a priority. Volunteering in the community and socializing are important activities that make me feel good about myself.
Just prior to getting ill, I separated from my husband and ended up on welfare, with no job skills.
When a job skills program was offered through welfare, I gladly accepted. I trained as an Activities Coordinator in a nursing home and later I worked as a relief counsellor for the Autism Society. I loved my job, but soon realized I needed more education to support my family and so I decided to go to university.
I was so thrilled at how well I was doing. I was working more than full-time hours and attending university and to my children. After a series of significant stresses including my car catching on fire and my son being hospitalized for a week, I experienced a psychotic break.
I became oblivious to everything that was happening around me and to me. I ended up losing my job and had to quit my university studies. I went back on welfare, feeling that all my dreams had been taken. I was put on medication and sent home. I drank alcohol excessively and wanted to die and I tried many times over the years.
After 5 long years and finally accepting my illness, I stopped drinking and was compliant with my meds. I started walking for exercise and did crosswords for my mental wellness.
I got over feeling "poor me" in time. Mental illness is not something you chose to have. A support system is very important including family and agencies in the community. It's okay to reach out for help.
Eventually I was able to return to University and I graduated with two degrees and a certificate. It was a lot of hard work but I rose to the challenge and proved to myself that I could be successful.
Perseverance, determination, resilience and believing in myself are how I keep focused on being well and staying well. Today I celebrate almost 18 years of wellness. Never give up! Dreams still can come true! You are never alone!
There is discrimination and stigma with mental illness. We have no control over other people's thoughts or actions. But, we can control our own thoughts and actions. We can learn to understand, that the problem is with them and not us. We can become the best person we can be. We have an illness not a life sentence. Life does get better with time. Hang in there!
Dealing with mental and emotional abuse made me feel bad about myself as a teenager. I thought I could read others thoughts which made it worse because of course I focused on the negative. I walked through the school halls with my head down, hoping nobody would look at me and spent a lot of time looking in the mirror trying to love myself.
I turned to drugs because they made me feel happy and make friends. Smoking cigarettes made me feel strong. Now I have emphysemia. I then was hearing conversations and awful words and seeing things that weren't ever happening. This was years later when I wasn't even doing drugs anymore. My mother didn't want me on medications, but as soon as I could, I saw a doctor.
Meds do help but we have to also help ourselves. Distractions make a big difference. I find that relaxation music and songs with positive lyrics train my mind to have a better outlook. What we feed our minds becomes our own reality. I won't even watch the news or much TV at all unless its going to make me happy and laugh.
We are all unique individuals and no one is perfect. We need to enjoy every moment we can. Love for ourselves and being okay with who we are is very important when ill. Negativity is only playing on our fears and most of the time voices and bad thoughts are not even the truth. I used to sit in my place by myself and listen. I was hurting and thought, "Why?"
ACTT team members and groups gave me a whole new life - friendships and a reason to go out and live. Us clients are helping each other too, learning and having fun. There is hope. You will find it. Live to love and you will love to live. All the best in your journey to wellness.
Our values guide the committee's decision making and actions: