CMHO will be posting a new weekly web series featuring stories from parents and youth who have experienced high quality treatment at one of Ontario's Child & Youth Mental Health Centres. We are sharing these stories to show that when given the opportunity to access treatment, kids with mental health issues can move forward and have great lives.

Imagine a dark room. Cold. Tiny. There are two sounds that innervate the room: a low growl that convinces you that you are useless, and the sound of you muffling your tears. That’s where I lived for a long time. There, I felt like I was choking on life.

It was impossible to carry on living the way I did. I felt guilty about everything, because the snarl in my room told me I was pathetic and a failure. So, I thought I didn’t deserve to live. I didn’t think I deserved food, so I stopped eating. I even felt guilty using tissues to wipe away my tears. Because I was useless, I thought everyone hated me. I thought the world would be a better place if I was dead. Can you imagine feeling this way every day? Feeling like your parents would be better off if you killed yourself? Needless to say, all these emotions prevented me from attending many classes, further isolating me, and forcing me to bow to the mercy of the voice.

One day, my high school guidance counsellor recommended a walk-in-clinic at Skylark, a Toronto based child and youth mental health centre. I was reluctant to go because I didn’t want to waste community resources. I mentioned the clinic to a friend I regularly confided in, and she encouraged me to make a visit. One day, right before my last year of high school, I was in the neighbourhood and I desperately wanted to get better, so I decided to go. Thank God I did go, because I finally started healing.

Skylark has amazing therapists. At the end of one session you feel so much better. The design of a walk-in clinic makes so much sense because you can discuss emotions on the day you feel down. Plus, you can visit the walk-in clinic as many times as you need.  The environment is also super comfortable. The staff really put in an effort to make it feel inclusive and welcoming.

After finally receiving the treatment that I needed, I found a new direction to my life. I just finished my second year of university, and frankly I didn’t think I would make it this far. I have amazing grades and am involved in many extra-curriculars. I have even started a club at my school that delivers mental health workshops to high school students.

I am so much more resilient to problems that come my way. Instead of crying for hours on end and blaming myself, I analyze the problem, talk to my parents, and find a solution. I don’t think in black and white anymore either, which caused me tremendous pain. I don’t beat myself up like I used to when I make mistakes. Now, I am gentler to myself, and am flexible enough to allow room for errors. Most importantly, I don’t believe I am a waste of space and that the world would be a better place without me. Instead, I believe that the world can be a better place with me.

I want to share my story because I want to help other people get the help they need.

Going to Skylark for mental health treatment has helped me defeat the maleficent voice in my room. My room is no longer cold and tiny. It is bright and colourful. Sometimes it is dark, but I have the tools now to open the curtains to let the light in. In the future, I wish to be a psychiatrist to help other people out of their mental cages, because now I know that it can be done.

Thank you so much Skylark, especially my therapist (who I also thanked at my high school graduation ceremony)!


Stories like this one show us that mental health treatment works. But community child & youth mental health centres do not have enough funding to keep up with the current demand for services. Kids are waiting for months, or even years, to receive the life saving treatment they so desperately need. Talk with your local MPP today and ask them to invest in kids mental health, because our Kids Can't Wait.  


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Photo by Court Prather on Unsplash