Kevin is happy.
You can see the joy in his face when talks about his career as a Technical Writer, his role as a grandfather and his recent engagement.
“I didn’t think that would ever happen again,” Kevin says of being in a serious relationship with his fiancée, Rhonda. “She knows my whole story. No secrets. I’m in love with this girl.”
Kevin’s happiness comes after a journey which includes a lifelong battle with both sexual abuse and mental illness.
Abused as a child in England and again as a teenager after immigrating to Canada at eight years old, Kevin struggled throughout his adolescent years through to adulthood. He dealt with the turmoil in his life by focusing on athletics.
“As athlete you are taught to suck it up and grind through it,” says Kevin, who excelled at both hockey and soccer. “I was able to that with sports, but not the rest of my life.”
Struggling with anxiety and depression, Kevin suffered in silence for many years as he moved through different stages in life, which included going to school, embarking on a career, getting married and starting a family.
“There were definitely happy times in between,” notes Kevin, now 58. “But I was unwell for about 20 years.”
When struggling Kevin would cry, have difficulty sleeping and would argue often. He was hospitalized on multiple occasions after his family feared for his well-being.
However, he continued to struggle. His marriage ended and he became estranged from many family members and friends.
“Finally, one of my doctors said ‘that’s it, you are going to Ontario Shores’,” recalls Kevin.
Following a pair stints as inpatient at Ontario Shores, Kevin was referred to the Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP), which is a short-term day treatment program for individuals with a serious and persistent mental illness. PHP days are filled with intensive and interprofessional treatment meets the individual recovery needs of each patient.
Kevin credits PHP for his recovery and for helping him understand his mental illness and how to manage his mental health. Diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder, Kevin has learned how to deal with the stressors of life that can amplify the symptoms of his mental illness.
“I now have all the facts,” he says when talking about how to manage his health. “I understand myself and my illness. I feel like I can succeed. I feel like I have a life again.”
Kevin attributes part of his success in PHP to the approach of those leading the program.
“I was treated with dignity right from the beginning,” he says. “It was all on the approach.”
As Kevin continues to rebuild his life, he’s enjoying his recent engagement and his role as a grandfather while continuing to focus on being the best person he can be. He’s also hopeful that his improved health will afford him opportunities to mend and strengthen relationships damaged by the years his life was ravaged by mental illness.
“I understand how difficult it’s been for everybody in my life, but I’m committed to my health and my recovery.”
Kevin is also committed to helping others. He hopes sharing his story will inspire others to reach out for help and help eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness.
“Mental illness needs to be viewed by society like any other serious illness.”Back
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