My biological mother decided to send me to her parents in Halifax Nova Scotia because she couldn’t care enough for me as she struggled heavily with addiction. For the first seven years of my life, whenever she would feel she wanted to make an attempt to be a parent, I bounced back and forth between her and my grandparents. I was abused and not cared for during my time with her.
And that was a time that I noticed a difference in my behaviour: I became reticent as I could not use words about the abuse I succumbed. Being a child of violence, it affected my ability to develop like any other children of my age.
Eventually, my grandparents were able to adopt me. We moved from Nova Scotia to Alberta because they felt it would be the best place for me to grow up away from bad memories.
Entering my teenagehood, I was a shy and isolated girl, which was the main reason why making friends was quite challenging for me. I sought helps from many different counsellors, but it didn’t stick, and eventually, I got tired of telling everyone about all the horrible things I went through. Nobody understood me, and it was hard to have somebody whom I could confide in on stressful days. So I kept the struggle to myself.
I lost my dad at the age of 19. Four years later, my mother passed away. And now at the age of 33, I have recently lost my partner in life. If you ask me whether any traumatic events could impact one’s mental health, I know for sure that it can have a significant effect on the body and the chemicals in the brain.
But the saddest part was, at the time when I would suffer through a traumatic event, my mental health became more impacting on my day to day life and seeking help only consisted of call centers and very long wait lists.
Until one day, I found CMHA Calgary’s Welcome Centre. When I have a bad day or even find myself isolated, I know that I can go there. It feels comfortable speaking to someone face to face and sees compassion in someone’s eyes, who has walked a similar path myself. Only at CMHA Calgary, I am able to build my coping toolbox and visit with my peer supporters for my daily DOSE (Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, and Endorphins).
Music and art also save me. It has the ability to calm my mind and put my mind into something creative, whether I’m painting and putting my feelings on paper or even just creating art through makeup. Putting in headphones and focusing on lyrics other than my running mind also help with my mental health.
Everyone is different but I want to be able to reach out and show them that mental health has many faces. I personally think that the only way to eliminate the stigma is to use one’s voice and build the community resilience.
Lastly, I am very thankful for the peer support worker at CMHA Calgary. The day I walked in the front doors, I truly felt nothing but understanding and acceptance. I feel hopeful for my future, I am inspired to help others to break the stigma and be an advocate of mental health.
Thank you CMHA Calgary for being a part of my journey.