Jason describes living with anxiety as feeling like there’s a camera on him at all times. He second guesses everything he says and does, wondering what people are thinking of him. For Jason a night out at a bar to watch the game was sometimes too big of an ordeal to go through and he would end up staying home. “There were times I wanted to go out and watch sports with my friends but I couldn’t face it. I wanted to see them but at the same time I didn’t want them to see me. I was ashamed,” says Jason.
His anxiety began at the age of seven, soon after his father passed away from lung cancer. “Being so young and seeing my father get sick was very traumatic. It was soon after he passed away that I started to feel the symptoms of anxiety,” Jason says. “I started isolating myself from family and friends.”
During his high school years, he spent a lot of time alone in his room and his symptoms started to get worse. He was hospitalized on three separate occasions when he and his family decided it was time to get help. “I thought I should be able to beat this on my own but it was clear that if I wanted to get better, I needed help.”
Jason was admitted in to CAMH’s Mood and Anxiety Alternate Inpatient Milieu (AIM) program where he was diagnosed with anxiety and bipolar disorder. He was an inpatient for 28 days. In the program he took part in group therapy sessions and learned more about his illness. He describes the program as a godsend.
“At first it was scary and I felt alone, but opening up during the therapy sessions and reaching out to people paid off in the end,” says Jason. “I realized that it was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I had to take advantage of it.”
Now going back to CAMH every week for follow up care, Jason feels like his life has changed for the better. He now has a strong support group of friends and tools he can use to manage his illness in everyday life. Now he wants to give back.
“I’m looking in to coming back to CAMH as a volunteer,” Jason says. “CAMH has given me so much and now I want to help others.”