Trigger Warning: The content below contains information on mental illness and suicide which some readers may find triggering. If you need support, please contact the Ontario Shores crisis line: 1-800-263-2679.
Reducing the stigma: Desmond’s Story
Playing a lot of sports during his youth, Desmond was constantly exposed to the idea that boys and men needed to be tough. By the time he reached his teenage years, the pressure felt like it was eating him alive.
Anxiety gnawed at him, day in and day out. Working at a grocery store during university, Desmond was constantly thrown into new roles he was unprepared for due to understaffing. His teeth chattered, and his stomach felt as through it were tied up in knots. The mere idea of going into work filled him with dread.
He found it difficult to even get out of bed.
Later, in teacher’s college, the anxiety manifested in crippling stomach pain. Desmond had a hard time walking. Concerned, his parents took him to a doctor, who diagnosed him with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. He remained at home with his family and took the time to focus on his mental health.
Participating in a Movember fundraiser for men’s health, Desmond was inspired to share his story via his social media platforms. The friends and family who reached out to him made him realize he was far from alone. He carried his advocacy forward to his co-op position when he returned to university, speaking about his anxiety at a company mental wellness initiative. Demond was rewarded with a full-time role upon gradauation.
While many businesses slowed down during the COVID-19 pandemic, Desmond’s ramped up. The familiar feelings of anxiety were creeping up again – but, thanks to the support he had received, he had the tools he neded to cope. Desmond took some vacation days to mentally reset, and is now thriving again.
He continues to use his voice to destigmatize mental illness, speaking in mental health first aid trainings and providing suggestions to supervisors at his work around how best to support employees. In 2017, Desmond was nominated for the 150 Leading Canadians for Mental Health for his willingness to share his story.
Your gift to Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences can help someone like Desmond turn their struggles into successes. Your generosity ensures everyone has the chance to pursue recovery free from stigma and live life fully.