Stories

Team 20/20 Runs for youth mental health in Toronto

UnderstandUs is excited to sponsor team “20/20” in the RBC Run for the kids.   These individuals are located in Toronto and their view and care for youth mental health was so aligned with our vision that we are honoured to feature them on our site.  Please take a moment to donate to their team or share their stories on your social media outlets.

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Karen Jacoby

Although I consider myself  philanthropic, the RBC Run for the Kids is the first cause I have personally championed and team I have captained. In partnering with ‘Understand Us’ I hope to not only bring awareness to youth mental health challenges locally but nationally. My recipe for bringing calm to my life is becoming active in charitable pursuits and setting goals to improve the world we live in and the people we share it with.

Michelle Tiangco and Matthew Lawrence
After a mentally exhausting day, our go to remedy is turning off all the lights and meditating. No cell phones, no talking, and most importantly breathe. It helps us feel grounded and in control when things around us are chaotic!

Susan Sun
As a teacher many of my students come from cultures that still view mental illness as invisible or non- existent. Their language barriers make it harder than ever to reach out. I wish every parent and teacher would look just a little harder to see the signs and every child would feel comfortable enough to open up. We all need to work together to reach the unreachable and understand. My recipe to destress and unwind is almost a ritualistic night routine of: imgur to see the humor, beauty and kindness of the world; one form of tea or another and a far fetched novel to escape into a different world.

Matthew Kim
My recipe for mental wellness is focusing my day by turning my phone on silent, plugging in my music and reading an inspiring book about some of my favourite sports legends.

Alexa Arquhard
This race and cause is important to me to create awareness and help for those in need like myself. I suffer from anxiety which has only become manageable through the right support and aid. I hope to bring solutions through the Sunnybrook Hospital Navigation Project to other children and families who are at the beginning of their process and make a difference in their health and quality of life. When I am feeling overwhelmed I focus my energy on physical activity- and preferably a good dance.

Finally: Jenna Toms

As I am sitting at my desk sipping on my coffee, I realize I am smiling for no reason. I am sitting in total peace, completely content, and then I am overwhelmed by emotions. My mind starts racing and I begin to have flash backs from the last few years of my life. Over the course of those ten seconds of flashbacks and memories, I take a deep breath, and as I exhale, I say to myself, “Finally. Thank God, finally.”

Finally I can feel happiness. Finally I am not numb to everything around me. Finally I see how good I have it, how blessed I am and how far I have come. Finally I recognize how much love I am surround by daily. Finally I realize that I deserve to be loved. Finally I am capable of loving another with all my heart. Finally I truly love life.

Waking Up: Willa Burton

 As I sit here contemplating where the beginning of my journey really began, I start to realize how much help I really needed and how far I’ve come.

 At this point in my life I’d suffered from chronic migraines, so going to the doctor was a monthly occurrence for me. But one Thursday morning doctors visit would change the course of my life forever. My dad, my doctor Didi and I became really close over the prior two years. So my dad sitting in on all my appointments was totally normal, and almost expected every time I went. When the nurse called out “Wilhelmina” I began to replay my migraines that week preparing myself for the questions Didi would ask. But as I began to sit down to update Didi, he stopped me, asking my dad to go for a walk around the mall. A thousand thoughts crossed

Break the Stigma: Kirstin Kuka

My name is Kirstin Kuka. I’m 22 years old and I am a University of Regina student. I am currently finishing up my last year of my undergraduate degree in Human Justice with a specialized concentration in Criminal and Restorative Justice. Try telling your family that long title every single family gathering! Human Justice and Criminology in general are my passions and I am so truly blessed to have found something that I love so much to fulfill as a field of work and study.

 

I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Depression at the age of 19. But in all honesty, I had been dealing with both of these mental illnesses long before my diagnosis. As a child I was one of those kids that constantly worried about other people, especially my family. I remember seeing a counsellor regularly for the first time in elementary school at the age of 8 and as I grew older I continued to see someone off and on just to stay on track.

 

An Untold Truth: Jerrod Corse

Did somebody say “mental health?” I thought you shouldn’t say that out loud, after all, it has a negative stigma right? Well to those who have or currently live with mental health diseases, please scream it out loud.  It is a disease that can have disastrous effects and could be happening to anyone around you, including those you love the most or the boss you feel has everything “together”.

 

The Truth: Kelsey Hanson

“I want to inspire people. I want someone to look at me and say because of you, I didn’t give up.”

 

I found this quote about six months ago and when I read it, all I could think about is how much I wanted to hear those words from someone. I realized that although I have struggled and dealt with many obstacles, I can be that inspiring person that I’ve always wanted to be.  For the first time in my life, I have realized that it is unfair to be ashamed of who I really am and what has made me who I am today. I am taking the risk of having another story that is the same as so many others, but I also have the opportunity to inspire or maybe help someone build the courage to tell a friend or family with a struggle they have been dealing with. My goal is not to make people feel sorry for me, I do not want any sympathy, my goal is to help people realize how precious life is and that if you are struggling, you are not alone.

 

One hours time: Riley Lawson

In one hour’s time in Grade 7 at the age of 12, something happened. I didn’t know it at the time but it would shape my entire existence, influence my every decision, and affect the rest of my life…

 

I had been sick with the flu for a few days at home prior to the day that began it all. I was in music class and was not feeling well so I asked to go to the bathroom. The teacher told me to sit back down and wait the 5 minutes until the film was over, so I did as I was told. I remember sitting there thinking about how embarrassed I would be if I got sick in front of all these people but dismissed it and tried to watch the film. Not more than 2-3 minutes later I felt a wave of sickness come over me,

Out of the Blues: The story of Chris Burns

This is the story of Chris Burns.  A great friend and someone who I believe will be a huge part of the mental health movement in Canada for years to come.  His unique story and his fearless way of delivering it is amazing to watch.  This video follows Chris’ fascinating history, his battle with depression and ends with a message of hope for those who suffer.

 

Surviving Trixie: Heather Ashton

Surviving Trixie

 

Part I: The Joys of Dieting

 

Now that I look back at what I’ve written, it’s occurring to me how sick I really was. “What brings you to the ER this afternoon, sweetie?” The triage nurse looked at me with the most beautiful eye creasing smile. “An eating disorder, I guess.” I mean, I didn’t think I was that sick. I still could walk, I could still stand. But you see, thats the vile thing about eating disorders. They somehow deny you the fact that you are even remotely ill because theres no problem in being thinner, right? Everybody wants to be a size 0. Everyone wants to see there protruding collarbones. As far as I knew I was a perfectly normal teenager. Because everyone wants to be slim, right?

 

Walk with me: Kristin Foote

What is an RPN anyway?  Why wouldn’t you just become a real nurse? Aren’t you scared of working there?  Tell me some crazy stories!

 

These comments and questions are asked to me on a regular basis as a Registered Psychiatric Nurse. I am a proud RPN at the Regina General Hospital on the Adolescent and Adult Psychiatry Units and a Casual Psychosocial Rehabilitation Worker with Phoenix Residential Society.

 

Spandex Thinking: Carleen Desautels

Yoga pants, jeggings, stretchy jeans and the comfy pajama bottoms that you keep for years.  When we put on these pieces of clothing we feel free and unrestricted, the shape of the clothes adjusting to the shape of our body rather than us having to adjust to the shape of the clothes.  All of these pieces of clothing contain some small amount of Spandex, in most cases as little as 5%.  The stretchiness of the threads allows the fabric to shift and move, making allowances for our bodies and making those yoga pants, jeggings or jeans the “perfect fit”.

My Recipe: Carleen Desautels

I like to be comfortable. I don’t like putting myself out there especially when there is ANY risk of looking stupid or failing. I don’t like taking risks. I prefer to know what is going to happen next and having my surroundings in order.  I like to be safe and sound and snug in my comfort zone.  I also know that, although comfortable now, my comfort zone will continue to get smaller and smaller until it will eventually becomes my coffin.  So my recipe for mental health involves pushing myself out of my comfort zone on a regular basis.  I think about the things that scare me or cause me to be uncomfortable, like doing something that I am not good at and might look stupid doing or messing up my system and then make myself get uncomfortable by breaking out of my comfort zone at least one time every month.  I must admit that I don’t always look forward to or enjoy being outside of that zone, but over time I have come to realize that some of my best experiences have been when I have pushed myself out.  I once heard a saying that Life begins outside of your comfort zone and for me; I think that this is an important place for me to spend more time in order to stay mentally healthy.