October 5, 2021

“My Future is Real, Recovery is Possible” – RBC Race for the Kids Is More Than a Run

Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation supports the RBC Race for the Kids taking place in Saskatchewan to step forward for youth mental health. Sign up as an individual or team today for the virtual, global event weekend on October 16th & 17th, 2021.

When you pledge to participate in a run or walk in RBC Race for the Kids, you will help fund the Tele-Help phone therapy program, through Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation, providing virtual evidence-based care while Saskatchewan kids and youth are on the waitlist for mental health services.

We were so touched by Theo’s story that we wanted to share their experiences directly from them, as they explain their experience with mental health challenges first-hand and how important raising much-needed funds for mental health services really is.

My name is Theo (they/them) and I am 20 years old.

At this point in time, my diagnosis is Major Depressive Disorder with Psychotic Features. I also suffer from Anxiety. Initially, we were told that the waiting list to see a doctor was two and a half years, but that shifted when I had a crisis. The crisis was to a point that I was admitted to the hospital. During the last four years, I have spent about 11 months total being an inpatient at this center. The longest I was admitted was 91 days.

Today I am very lucky to have found a treatment that works to upkeep my wellness. I am taking multiple medications and for the last several years I have been on Electroconvulsive (ECT) treatment every three months. ECT is a treatment under anesthetic using an electrical current to re-align the brain. These treatments and medications have saved my life. Side effects include exhaustion, loss of memory, and tremors. The side effects suck, but my recovery is wonderful. I never thought it would be possible. When I was first ill, I never thought I would still be alive to enjoy another birthday.

Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital in Saskatoon was wonderful for me. Being able to use the in-hospital school program gave me a chance to continue my education while I was very sick. I am very grateful for this. I have since graduated, and I owe a lot to the hospital teacher’s help, support and encouragement.

My illness has affected me differently over the years. I have had periods of time where I couldn’t leave the house. I had restrictions due to psychosis that led me to believe if I ate different foods I would die. I believed I was being followed by men in suits, and they talked to me, telling me to harm myself or others. I would spend hours and hours in the emergency department where the doctors didn’t know what to do with me. Today I have a steady stream of professionals that are a wonderful support. They have given me the possibility to learn healthy coping mechanisms. These skills, along with time, have given me the ability to break free from the clasps of my illnesses.

Now I can see a future. This illness has put a gigantic strain on my family. They help me every day, often going way beyond their own limits. I respect them greatly. Over the last few years, my family has driven me to many appointments, groups, and treatments. My recovery wouldn’t be possible without them.

Today my biggest challenge is continuing my recovery. I often fear that I will relapse, but I have learned that relapse is not the end of the world, and I can recover again. On November 19, 2021 it will be one year since my last hospitalization. Reaching that goal is going to be amazing. As well as meeting that goal, I am reaching out and becoming part of my community again. Finding ways to fill my time and give back to those who have helped me is so fulfilling.

This illness will be a part of my life forever. Like the tide, it comes and goes at different times and with different strengths. My future is real. Recovery is possible, and I will get there.

Theo’s parents provide a reflection on their mental health challenges:

As parents, our greatest hope for Theo is that they can continue to do the things that they want to do. For so many years we questioned if Theo was going to stay alive and if they were ever going to be able to manage their illness. Now with the support of many doctors, YRC (Youth Resource Centre), and EPIP (Early Psychosis Intervention Program) professionals we can see a future for Theo. For our family, the support from health professionals has made an overwhelming difference, and we know it has kept Theo alive.

When a loved one has a serious and persistent mental illness, it affects the entire family.  It is so important to be able to access help before everyone becomes hopeless. There is an incredible need in the community for early access to mental health professionals. A phone counseling program or virtual visits may help with crisis management. However, access to permanently funded long-term programs and support for people with mental illness is critical. This needs to be accomplished sooner rather than later.

Register now for RBC Race for the Kids to support Saskatchewan youth like Theo and Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation.

If you or someone you know is going through a crisis or thinking about suicide, call the Canada Suicide Prevention Service at 1.833.456.4566 or Kids Help Phone at 1.800.668.6868 or text CONNECT to 686868.  If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, please call 9-1-1 or go to your nearest hospital.

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