Date Published: Thursday, June 28, 2012
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The Mindful music concert and Family Fun Day taking place at Ontario Shores on July 7 is personal to me because I was a patient there in 2001.
I am schizophrenic. I first developed symptoms in Grade 9. In the years following Grade 9, I slowly became more ill, but I did not realize it since the symptoms appeared slowly. I ended up turning away my friends since my paranoia led me to believe they treated me poorly.
I ended up a patient in Ontario Shores when I was 18. My experience in Ontario Shores was sour and sweet. For the average person, the hospital is not the place they want to be. Aspiring to attend post-secondary school was frustrating since my illness thwarted me from doing so. On the upside, I remember making new friends and I remember the compassion of the staff who worked there. In retrospect, I was luckier than some other patients. When I was well enough, my family, who lived in Whitby, brought me home on weekends as a break from the hospital. I say I was lucky because many patients do not have that support.
By experiencing schizophrenia myself, I have compassion and understanding for the patients and ex-patients who struggle with mental health issues. There is more education focused on mental illness today as more and more people share their experiences as well as existing support groups in and out of the hospital. Someone who exhibits symptoms may not feel they fit in, and their family and friends sometimes treat them differently, so when there is understanding it helps the patient as well as the family and friends of that person.
One of the experiences I have had is that you meet people all time who may be a patient or ex-patient, but you do not realize it because they act normal. Being an ex-patient I realize this. I moved on from Ontario Shores to a group home, to my own place, to keeping two jobs and now I attend Trent University.
If someone you know shows symptoms of illness, believe that they can move on to meaningful lives as I have. The benefit of Ontario Shores and its Mindful Music concert event is that it can make people more aware of mental illness and consequently help to reduce the stigma associated with mental health.
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