Bill, a grateful patient and Caring Spirit donor, shares his mental health journey and the care he received at Royal Jubilee Hospital in support of the Victoria Hospitals Foundation’s Equipped to Heal campaign. The Foundation has been entrusted to share this story on mental health—we are deeply grateful.
Please note: The important story below contains references to sensitive topics around mental health.
If it hasn’t helped you, you might not know what “psychosocial rehabilitation” means. It might just sound like a bunch of words. But to me, it was really valuable. It helped me so much.
I come from a long mental health journey of getting sick and getting better. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and then schizoaffective disorder. I’m 61 now and I’ve had a lot of support from the community along the way. And from the hospitals too.
After I came to Victoria, the psychoeducational program at Eric Martin Pavilion on the Royal Jubilee Hospital campus helped me learn balance and gave me the confidence to get out into the community. I was like a turtle in a shell, and that support was so important in starting my healing journey.
Today, I’m a housekeeper for seniors in assisted-living. I really love being part of the community, sharing life with the residents and the staff, and making it a nice place for people to live. I never would have been able to do that without the help I received at Eric Martin. My life would be totally different.
I learned that keeping my balance is like the tides—going out and coming back in a little bit at a time. Mentally absorbing the environment and new situations. You don’t want to go too far out with the tide, because that’s going to come back in with the storm, if you know what I mean.
Last year when COVID-19 hit and we all had to isolate, things got pretty bad for me. Because of the restrictions, I lost my connection to the community and my church and I turned to the masses that were on TV for comfort. I guess I learned that too much of a good thing isn’t good either. I watched 120 masses in six weeks and I got really manic. I couldn’t sleep for two weeks and I had massive separation anxiety.
That was when a concerned workmate took me to the hospital. I am so thankful they had a room for me. It took me two more weeks to get back sleeping.
If you haven’t experienced being manic before, how I would describe it is like I was an eagle flying high in the sky. Or like a helium balloon way up in the air on a string, and you have to gradually pull the string back down to the earth without popping the balloon.
That’s how I would describe the care and support I received at Royal Jubilee Hospital. I came down and got grounded. But only because of the help of the nurses and doctors.
I think the turning point was when I met nurse John. He talked to me, and he really listened. I got to express my faith. I thank the caregivers very much for taking care of me and getting me grounded again, and listening to me and being there. I found it very supportive.
I know that it takes a lot of people working together for healthcare to work. An awful lot of people. It also takes people and companies donating. Not only donating money but also their time and their willingness to talk about and get involved with mental illness.
It’s quite a blessing when people get involved to take care of one another. The programs in our hospitals do that for people; I know because I’m one of them. Thank you for your support of mental health care; it really does make a difference in people’s lives.