Note from Jason:  I’ve only talked to John on the phone but I am so proud of him.  After so many years of suffering in silence,  John has chosen the path of vulnerability.  I’m blown away by his courage and his willingness to share his story.  It’s our unvarnished humanity that contains the threads that bind us together.

I always thought of myself as a pretty humble person. Over the past 8 months I have gained a far greater understanding of humility as I have witnessed it on many occasions. I have had some much needed and amazing support from family and some great friends. Vulnerability has become my life line. In some ways, by speaking out and telling my story I’m realizing I’m not alone and people do love you for who you are flaws and all.

My journey towards a much happier, healthier life mentally , emotionally and physically will be ongoing. Thank you to Royal Victoria Hospital in Barrie for offering a six week day program on mental health and addiction followed up with a seven week program based on cognitive therapy. I know these programs won’t always be easy but they are necessary in order for me to heal. I’m am embracing this challenge and ready to climb the mountain towards a more fulfilling life.

Recently I have embraced meditation as I attend weekly classes and find it very calming. Reiki is also very spiritual and greatly beneficial to me. I currently have my level two Reiki and some day would like to become a Reiki master. By allowing myself to be vulnerable I can already feel a more real and sincere kind of support which is an amazing feeling.

It was another beautiful fall morning. I woke at 5:30 as I had a 90 minute drive to work for a job I had at Bethel Hospice near Orangeville. During my drive I could not help but feel as though I should be grateful for my life. Especially knowing what these people were facing and the heartache their families are dealing with. I had worked there on many occasions and have been a volunteer with hospice Simcoe in Barrie for many years.

This day was particularly hard. I was dealing with a difficult situation at home. On Labour day weekend I was stricken with a serious leg infection. Two weeks later my partner, Jonna, was diagnosed with melanoma. We were both devastated. The situation put enormous strain on both of us. I knew our relationship was falling apart but I could not accept it. This was the time when we needed each other more than ever. All I could think of was what Jonna was facing and the fear that she must feel. I just needed and wanted to be there to support her.

I stepped up and  took care of her which I will always be grateful for. I have lacked a lot of confidence for most of my life but this was a challenge that I knew I could handle. I know I did an amazing job with great care & compassion. Not only because this was someone I loved. I just love to help people. With some amazing support from my sister Louise, two of Jonnas sisters, and her wonderful mother I was able to get through this. I am forever thankful for their support.

A special thank you to a dear friend Natalie: thank you so much for all your help and support in the most difficult of times. Friendship like yours means the world to me.

I have suffered from mental health issues since I was a teenager which I am finally admitting to myself. I have suffered from depression, anxiety & trauma.

The date was October 26, 2015. On my way home from hospice I felt great sadness about our situation at home. Soon after I returned home I brought up how I felt  about what was happening with our relationship. This was difficult but I had to talk about it. I struggled through this conversation because it was so painful. Some things were said that tore me apart. I began to feel numb and physically felt cold and then I felt nothing. Just nothingness.

All I knew was that I didn’t want to suffer any longer. The pain was too great and I was too tired. What I am about to speak of is difficult for me but I must. I am no longer ashamed as this is me and my story.

Devoid of any feelings, I left the room and went outside to my van. I just sat there staring at the church across the road. My mind drifted to thoughts of my two beautiful children and my siblings. I felt at peace for the first time in a long, long time. I would no longer have to feel the pain that had consumed my life for so long.

Some time passed and I returned to the house. There was only one beer in the house and I had no idea how important that would turn out to be. I grabbed it along with four or five sleeping pills and ten OxyContin. These were left over from a previous prescription for pain with my leg.

I returned to my van and just sat there feeling very peaceful. I guess over the next hour or so I took the pills until they were gone. I remember feeling tired & tranquil.

The next thing I remember is coming to feeling sick and confused. I thought I was in the midst of the process of dying. Somehow I made it back into the house where I spent the next two days in bed. I was unable to eat and only drank water. During this time I just wished I had died as all I could feel was pain and more shame. People whom I trust have told me if l had drank that one beer I would be dead.

I was finally able to get out of bed and I went for a walk with my dog. I bumped into a friend and mentioned what had happened. I was consumed with shame but so desperately needed to speak to someone. I just needed someone to hear me more than ever in my life.

To my friend: thank you with all my heart. You may not think of it as much but you helped me through the darkest time of my life. You will always be a friend to me. Always.

I still struggle. There has been so much loss all at once and I am in the midst of a separation. But for the first time I am feeling hopeful. I have the support of my family and some friends and one very special friend. I have so much more of my story to tell.  I want to speak openly about what has shaped my life and made me the person I am.

I do know that we as individuals are the only ones that can truly better ourselves and our lives. But the support of others is so very important.

It’s like the dawn is breaking after the longest of nights.