Mental Health is two words that strike fear and terror in many human beings on so many different levels.  Mental Health has so many meanings that may be different to each and every one of us.  If I could fulfill a wish it would be this. I would ask that if mental health of any kind enters your life that you meet it with compassion, understanding, and with an open heart and mind.  In doing this you can’t go wrong!

Childhood can be a tricky thing.  Some of us move thru childhood without a wrinkle; others have to try and break down a never-ending wall thru pain, grief, and perseverance.  What is sad, is some don’t make it.  They choose suicide because they just can’t see over that wall. Others get over it but drag that wall with them.  Those who do carry that wall with them, unfortunately, share the same dilemmas. Do I turn to alcohol, drugs, or suicide?  Do I seek help, or do I carry that wall, which has now grown taller and heavier, further into my life and hopes it just goes away?

To put it politely, my childhood sucked!  I was sexually abused for years and on a few occasions, I too wrestled with suicide as a way out.  I chose to take that wall with me into the career I then chose, policing.  I spent many years struggling with my own mental health, as well as, the enormous burden of dealing with the endless cases and calls from people dealing with many different mental health issues.  They were looking for something...anything I could offer......answers to questions I had no solid answers for.  

I continued like this for years, spiraling out of control.  At times I used alcohol and drugs.  I even stared at my gun contemplating my future.  The human spirit is a strange thing.  I finally recognized that I was at a crossroads.  I could carry on like I was or move forward.  I had to do something.

Friends and family saw me struggling, but to no fault of their own, were unsure of what to do or say.  I went to therapy for ten years, on and off.  Then took my abuser to court.  I attended Homewood Mental Health Facility twice for PTSD from my past and from work.  My first time thru, I could not get past my trust factor and chose to return for a second time three months after the first.  This was the TSN turning point for me.  

I am now 53 years old, happily retired and I can say, I honestly believed that I would not make it past 40.  Luckily, I was wrong.

Why write about this?  I think there is a light at the end of the tunnel for those who suffer from mental health, for those who have loved ones suffering from mental illness and also for those who deal daily with people who are struggling with mental health issues.  I wish I had all of the answers.  I don’t. What I do have, is this incredible life after what could certainly have been my death.  Don’t get me wrong.  I struggle and always will at times. But I believe as those bricks go back up, I work at taking them down one at a time.  Guess what?  I’m still here! 

Kelly Fitzsimmons
Retired (30 years) OPP Sgt