January 19, 2022
Disclaimer: SickNotWeak does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content contains explicit and sensitive information that may not be suitable for all ages.
My journey with mental health started in 2009, when I first sought help for depression and anxiety. What I didn’t realized at the time, was that my depression and anxiety was a result of a substance use disorder. In 2013-2014, I attended detox on three occasions, and in 2014 went to a residential treatment center for my addiction to alcohol. I remain sober to date, eight years later. It was in 2015, a year into my sobriety, that I first started experiencing auditory hallucinations and delusions.
Yes, I’m someone with a dual diagnosis.
In the Spring of 2015, I presented at the hospital with auditory hallucinations, and was sent home with sleeping tablets. This was not my first experience with the mental health system, as I had previously been successfully treated for substance use disorder. Yes, I’m someone with a dual diagnosis.
I spent the summer of 2015 in and out of the hospital, both voluntary and involuntary. It was a tumultuous time, both for myself and family and friends. I passed my time listening and following the directions of the auditory hallucinations. My behaviour infuriated my family, and I isolated myself from family and friends. The police came to my house several times for mental wellness checkups.
In the fall of 2015, I crossed the line of acceptable behaviour in the community, and was court ordered to see a forensic psychiatric nurse and psychiatrist. It was here that I found the help I so desperately needed, but didn’t want to accept. It was here I found a trusting individual to share my experience with auditory hallucinations. By the Summer of 2016, I was diagnosed with schizophrenia.
It was a very tumultuous time, my relationship with my family was all but strained, I had isolated myself from my friends, and spent the vast majority of my time doing photography and hiking with my dog, Shiloh. I hadn’t worked in a couple of years and experienced a great deal of major depression. I spent many sleepless nights wondering how to cope with life. My saving grace was a forensic mental health nurse, who helped me get on a good combination of medication, and provided counselling which I desperately needed.
I started to flourish, sober, symptom free, the world was my oyster.
I started to flourish, sober, symptom free, the world was my oyster. I opened a Non-Profit Organization but was still struggling to work. In the Spring of 2017, I moved to back across the country, to be closer to family and try working. I wasn’t sure what I was capable of, I wasn’t sure how hard I could push myself without having symptoms return. I started working for an accounting firm, and in January 2019 I started my Masters of Arts in Counselling Psychology. With a passion for mental health, specifically addictions and schizophrenia, I am pleased to be studying in the field.
Today I am eight years sober, currently doing my work term for the master’s program, and peer supporting with the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia. My life today is unrecognizable to the life I was living in 2013 – isolated, alone, suffering from substance use disorder and schizophrenia. Today I am an avid golfer, hiker, and skier, I enjoy the work I’m doing in the mental health field, spending time with my dog Shiloh, and ultimately enjoying those relationships I have back in my life after a tumultuous time.
Click here to see Leslie’s website.
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