Caitlin

I have been experiencing problems with my mental health for as long as I can remember. I remember throwing temper tantrums, screaming, kicking and biting. I remember scratching and biting my skin whenever I got upset as young as four years old. I have always felt things in extremes. Things got worse when I started high school - I had just moved from Alberta to New Brunswick, leaving my father back in Alberta and starting a completely new life. 

I started cutting myself at 13 years old, I didn’t realize that what I was doing wasn’t normal. When I told my friends they blew it off, just a moody teenager. Throughout high school my mental health deteriorated, by the end of grade 11 I attempted suicide for the first time and was hospitalized for a week. As soon as I was released I was back in the ER, this time brought by ambulance. I spent that summer in the provincial child and adolescent psychiatric unit in Moncton, New Brunswick, an hour and a half from my home. Lots of people collect rocks or stamps or books, I collect DSM diagnoses. At this point I had collected around 7. Everyone seemed to want to slap a label on me and no one wanted to tell me how to fix it. 

 

Things went really well for a couple years, until fall 2016 when I had a severe relapse of my eating disorder and slipped into a major depressive episode. My mother showed up in Halifax to find me in bed, hadn’t showered, moved or eaten in days. At that point I had to drop out of Dalhousie, the school I loved, and move home. In January 2017 I attempted suicide and ended up spending a week on the psychiatric unit. After 16 diagnoses, the final opinion is a struggle with borderline personality disorder and anorexia.

While my battle with my mental health has been exhausting, it has also been amazing. It has made me more compassionate, understanding and gave me something to be passionate about. This is my second #MyDefinition campaign, and this campaign is what started my journey as a mental health advocate. Today, I am a member of the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health’s national youth advisory committee, I am a Wear Your Label role model and campus rep, I am the lead of the UNB Jack.Org chapter, and I sit on the KV Oasis Youth Advisory Committee. This winter I travelled to Toronto for the Jack Summit, a youth mental health summit. I also travelled to Ottawa to sit in parliament do discuss my passion for mental health. 

 

Today, I take two medications a day. I have gained 25 pounds in my eating disorder recovery. I finished my semester at UNBSJ with a 3.7 GPA. I work at a daycare as a preschool teacher doing what I love. I have a group of loving friends, supportive family and amazing boyfriend. I love travelling, shopping, coffee and my bath tub. I work tirelessly as a mental health advocate. I’m currently going into my fourth year of a sociology and psychology bachelor of arts. I have borderline personality disorder and an eating disorder. I am a suicide attempt survivor and a recovering self harmer. I am so much more than my illness.

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