Taking Charge: Edmund’s Journey with Depression and Anxiety
It was 2018 and from outward appearances, everything was great in Edmund’s life. He exercised regularly and had a close and supportive family, a thriving social life, and a career as a consultant that was both challenging and fulfilling – He just couldn’t understand why his depression and anxiety were getting worse.
Edmund tried to manage it with the support of those around him, but things continued to deteriorate. He began to have thoughts of self harm.
In our Jack & Pat Kay Emergency Psychiatric Unit, Edmund was seen by psychiatrist Dr. Yousef Papadopoulos, who referred him to acute-care therapy. When his short-term therapy had ended, Edmund learned he was a candidate for Taking Charge—a 16-week outpatient program at Humber River Hospital.
“I decided to take a six-month leave of absence from my job—something that was a last resort as I’ve always enjoyed my work and am very career oriented,” says Edmund. “But it was the right decision as I needed the time to focus on getting better.”
Located in a bright space on the Hospital’s fifth floor with an impressive view of the Toronto skyline, the 16-week day program involves one-on-one sessions with psychiatrists and longer group sessions with other people in the program, meant to inform and build community. This sense of belonging in such a diverse group, turned out to be as integral to his recovery process as his psychiatric sessions.
“One of my biggest “aha” moments came with the connections I developed with fellow participants in the day program,” says Edmund. “I came to question why I wasn’t extending the love and sympathy I felt for them to myself. Learning how to do that was a big step forward for me.”
“Everyone involved in the Taking Charge Program was amazing, including my therapist Amanda and my primary psychiatrist, Dr. Phillip Maerov,” continues Edmund. “Even though the intensity of what I was going through with major depressive disorder and anxiety was scary, they were so experienced and so caring that I felt reassured. I’ll never forget when Dr. Maerov significantly extended one of my sessions when we were making important progress – It showed me how invested he was in my recovery.
Edmund felt scared to return to life outside the program when it ended, but he realized that it had equipped him with the tools and techniques he needed to maintain his progress. He has also kept in touch with a few of his fellow participants who have become an informal support group for each other. Now, Edmund has the same strong family and social networks, is happily married, and still finds his career rewarding and fulfilling. The difference now is that he also feels at peace.
He is forever grateful for the treatment he received from Humber that he has given back as a donor. He wants to help other people by sharing his story, having recently giving a presentation on depression to hundreds of his work colleagues. He hopes that speaking about his experience and treatment will help those who are suffering but are afraid to seek help because of the stigma still associated with mental health issues.
“Knowing that other people are suffering, I feel an obligation to share my story in the hopes that it can help them as well,” says Edmund. “If my story can help even one person realize that this kind of help is available and seek it out, then it’s worth it.”