Fourteen years ago, I developed a severe intestinal infection. Day after day, I endured intense, burning sensations in my stomach while I was treated with antibiotics and medications to try and clear my digestive system.
After nine long weeks, my ordeal was over – or so I thought. I returned to work feeling healthy, physically, but mentally, something just wasn’t right. While going through a new training program, I found that I couldn’t concentrate as well as I used to before my illness. Though I was supposed to be learning new information, I couldn’t retain any of it and I became increasingly frustrated and anxious.
I had no idea what was going on. Nothing like this had ever happened to me before. I began to have panic attacks, and my friends and family were getting concerned because they didn’t understand why I was struggling so much.
After seeing my family doctor, I was given the diagnosis I never could have imagined: clinical depression. The infection had damaged a key area of my body that affects the function of nerves – including those in the brain. It’s a process that, when disrupted, can cause depression.
Coming to grips with my diagnosis was hard, but trying to overcome it was even more difficult. My whole outlook on life had drastically changed: my head was always filled with negative thoughts and I couldn’t believe anything would get better.
For the next ten years my doctor and I tried many different treatments to help me cope, but my body never responded as well as it should have.
Years of battling depression with little improvement were having a tremendous strain on my marriage and family. Because depression is an invisible illness, it was sometimes hard for those I loved to understand what I was going through.
I tried to remain hopeful, but I was running out of options … until a revolutionary treatment brought me to St-Boniface Hospital.
rTMS, which stands for repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, is a machine that treats depression by stimulating neurons in the brain. When I first heard about it, a private clinic in Toronto was the closest place in Canada with an rTMS. It was a big leap of faith, and a considerable financial commitment, but with my family’s support I travelled to Toronto for three weeks.
After my very first treatment, I knew this was the miracle I’d been hoping for. It was the first time in a decade that I felt like myself – as if an invisible load had been lifted off my shoulders.
I returned to Winnipeg ready to get my life back to normal, but also a little worried. Because rTMS isn’t a cure, I was going to need ongoing treatment, and at a great expense if I had to travel to Toronto every time.
Then one day in 2013, I happened to be listening to CJOB and heard that donors like you had helped purchase an rTMS machine and set up a public clinic at St-Boniface Hospital. I can’t put into words the hope and gratitude I felt at that moment.
Today, I’m receiving regular rTMS treatments at St-Boniface Hospital, and have participated in research studies looking into improving the effectiveness of rTMS. By receiving regular treatment here in Winnipeg, I’m able to focus more on my family and career, and less on my illness.
Because of generous people like you, I feel like I’ve been given a new life. Your ongoing support of St-Boniface Hospital Foundation continues to help me every day, and has the potential to help so many more.
Depression is a real illness that needs real support. Please consider helping those who are suffering by making a donation to St-Boniface Hospital Foundation today.
I truly believe that St-Boniface Hospital has the highest calibre of people and technology working to change the lives of those living with mental illness. Thank you for supporting them, as you have supported me.