The road I was travelling was dark and hopeless.

Ian’s Story

I nearly lost everything.
Ian Hakes

When I was struggling with my anxiety and depression, I went through a lot of difficult emotions. I thought terrible things about myself. I felt extremely frustrated that I didn’t know how to fix what was wrong with me. I felt like things would never get better.

The road I was traveling on was dark and hopeless.

One of the worst things about my depression was the lies my brain told me: I was worthless and no good; I would never get better; even that things might be better off without me around. At the same time, my anxiety painted catastrophic pictures about the future: I would wind up homeless and broke; I would die unloved and alone.

As I’ve come to understand my mental illness better, I’ve realized certain things about my diagnosis.

My anxiety is a bit like being caged with a hungry animal — it’s always there, hunting for weakness. In my darkest times, that animal was so terrifying to be around that I felt breathless, afraid to move. These days, that feeling is weaker and more predictable. There’s less impact on my day-to-day life, and I have learned to recognize my triggers and to avoid provoking my anxiety.

My depression is more like an ocean wave. It starts with a sensation of being pulled down; I feel myself suddenly dropping into the trough, then I get crushed by the weight of depression as it crashes over me. I used to lie in bed for long stretches of time, unable to get up or feel anything but hopelessness. I went to the hospital because my depression made me think about hurting myself.

My medications help to shrink the size and duration of these depression waves. I’ve spent a lot of time in therapy trying to understand how I feel about myself, and learning that much of the way I feel is just my depression lying to me. Now, I’m more conscious of the depression coming on, and when I feel it approaching, I know how to cope and ride it out, to get back to calmer waters.

The dark days are behind me now, hopefully for good. I can never forget how I felt or the impact my mental health issues have had on my life and my family. In my fear and pain and panic, I nearly lost everything.

However, with the help of Ontario Shores, I now have a support network around me and the tools I need to help me see the light ahead.

Being able to share my story never seemed like a real possibility. Guilt, fear, and the stigma against mental illness had me convinced that the world was not on my side. Now, I am part of this campaign which, I believe, is making great strides in breaking down the barriers around mental health. It challenges others to look at complex mental illness in the same fashion as any other chronic condition.

The support I received at Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences (Ontario Shores) reintroduced me to my life. It was what I needed, when I needed. As a society, we should strive to provide this experience to everyone at the beginning of their struggles.

I am proud to be involved in the Save The Living campaign. I saw this effort as an opportunity to help both myself and others dealing with mental illness. I am far enough along in my journey to recovery that I can speak up about my experiences and treatment – what worked for me, and what didn’t. I hope that other people who identify with my struggles can realize that there are available options. That the road doesn’t have to be dark. That there are others out there with similar issues and that you don’t have try and deal with anxiety and depression on your own. There are people willing and able to help. There is hope.

Please support the Save The Living campaign, so Ontario Shores can be there for those living with mental illness.

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) at Ontario Shores

PHP is for individuals with a serious and persistent mental illness and is an alternative to inpatient admission. The goal is to provide support to patients transitioning from hospital to the community and to offer an alternative to inpatient treatment.

  • Services patients aged 18-64.
  • 6-12 week day treatment program.
  • Offers a variety of intensive group and individual recovery oriented therapies.
  • Offers a transportation allowance and lunch and coffee is provided.


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Ontario Shores
Centre for Mental Health Sciences
700 Gordon Street
Whitby, Ontario
L1N 5S9

Telephone: 905-430-4055
Toll Free: 1.800.341.6323

Centralized Referrals

Charitable Business Number

83555 9824 RR0001

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