This is part of a new weekly blog series. We are sharing stories like this one to show that when given the opportunity to access treatment, kids with mental health issues can move forward and have great lives.
Sixteen-year-old Angeli was troubled and frightened with nowhere to turn.
After being teased and bullied all day at school (“for being diabetic…and fat”), Angeli found no solace or comfort when she walked in the door at home.
My mom was bipolar, schizophrenic and clinically depressed. My brother was doing drugs. My father was overwhelmed trying to cope with everything. I was caught in the middle of all the fighting and chaos trying to keep the peace but was always the one being yelled at.
At her wit’s end, Angeli ran away.
First, I went to a shelter, but after a week, I couldn’t stand it. So, I started living on the streets. That was worse, so I tried to end my life for the first time. But it didn’t work. I woke up in hospital.
An emergency referral brought Angeli to Skylark’s Hillsdale House, a residence for young people experiencing serious mental health challenges.
When I first moved in, I was not in good shape because I was having a really hard time handling what was happening to my mom. She was constantly in and out of hospital, which was very unsettling and disturbing for me, causing me to act out and rebel.
Then Angeli’s mom committed suicide.
I blamed myself. I believed with all my heart that if I had stayed at home, my mom would still be alive. She was my world; we were two peas in a pod and I just completely fell apart. I became a ‘frequent flyer’ on the suicide ward.
Skylark’s highly trained and qualified counsellors did not give up on Angeli.
I am speechless when I try to describe the constant support and compassion I received at Hillsdale”, recalls Angeli. “There were some really rough times during the two years I lived there, but my workers really understood what was happening with me and why — even when I was completely off the rails. Thanks to their determination and dedication, I blossomed from a lost, scared, angry girl into a grounded, responsible young woman. I might not be here if not for my Hillsdale family.
We would like to thank both Angeli and Skylark Children, Youth & Families for sharing her story. Angeli is an excellent example of how community mental health centres can change the lives of our children and youth. But there are currently over 12,000 kids in Ontario, just like Angeli, who are waiting months to years for this life saving treatment. Sadly, some will die by suicide before they can access the mental health treatment they need. That's not right. Talk with your local MPP today and tell them that we can keep our kids out of hospitals by investing in community child and youth mental health centres like Skylark Children, Youth & Families.
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