Trigger Warning: The content below contains information on mental illness which some readers may find triggering. If you need support, please contact the Ontario Shores crisis line: 1-800-263-2679.
A life full of meaning: Kirstie’s Story
Kirstie began to struggle with her mental health at a very young age. But it wasn’t until she was 19 years old, while attending university, that she experienced her first panic attack.
Facing anxiety and depression, Kirstie just tried to make it day by day. But then, soon after graduating nursing school, her father was diagnosed with brain cancer. Kirstie reached out to a doctor for help, but didn’t respond to the medications she was prescribed.
Following a trip to Thailand with a friend, Kirstie came home feeling overwhelmed and irrational. She couldn’t bring herself to go to work. A doctor referred her to an outpatient program, where she was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder Type II.
The treatment she received following her diagnosis has allowed Kirstie to find meaning in life again.
Working today as a registered practical nurse in long-term care, the COVID-19 crisis has hit hard. The future feels uncertain, and Kirstie swung into a state of hypomania as she threw herself into work. Thankfully, she was able to access the treatment she needed to help restore balance to her life.
Through a combination of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT), diet changes and exercise, Kirstie has found peace. She is even continuing her education, working towards becoming a registered nurse.
“I work hard at being well,” Kirstie says. “I want to continue to share my story to help Ontario Shores raise awareness, put an end to the stigma and allow people struggling with mental illness to know their illness does not define them and, like me, they too can live a life full of meaning.”
Your investment in mental health care at Ontario Shores will show others like Kirstie that they are so much more than their illness. You can help illuminate a path to recovery, and bringing joy and meaning back to patients’ lives.