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'I have found my light again': Julia Caddy says centre will help other kids in darkness

Updated: Sep 26, 2019

Julia Caddy may be a student at McGill University - she is very much the teacher in other aspects of life.

Julia is a passionate advocate for mental health. You may have seen her on TV commercials for the Centre for Child & Adolescent Mental Health. She shared her personal mental health journey in 2018 to illustrate what this centre means to young people like her. We are honoured to share it again with you now.

This is Julia's story.

Today in Canada, suicide is one of the leading causes of death for people in my age group. I know way too many teenagers who have tried to take their lives. And way too many who have wanted to. In fact, I’m one of them.
When I was in Grade 8, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. I was prescribed medication and I went to weekly counselling, but in January of Grade 9, I was hospitalized because I was suicidal and had developed an eating disorder.
This might sound weird, but I actually didn’t think I was “sick enough” to need help. There’s so much stigma around mental health, and the way it’s portrayed in the media is so sensational that - since I didn’t look like those people on TV or in those ads - I didn’t think I deserved the help I needed. I didn’t have cancer. I didn’t have a broken leg. I had a broken mind. And since it was my mind that was broken, I found myself faced not with chemotherapy or a cast, but instead with shame and denial.
Looking back now, I understand that what I was dealing with was just as serious as other life-threatening illnesses kids are facing in this hospital. But I didn’t get it back then.

Once I got here, a team of incredible people saved my life. They intervened medically … and then helped me find myself again. I’m in a much better place today and am so grateful to have gotten the care I needed in time. I owe this hospital my life.
The sad thing is there are too many young people who don’t know what to do when they’re overwhelmed by mental health issues. They don’t know where to turn for help. Or sometimes, even if they do know they can go to Emergency, they’re nervous about going to a hospital.
So when I heard about the new Centre, I was thrilled. And hopeful. And grateful that people want to build a place for young people just like me. It’s a chance to remove some of the stigma. And to provide help for kids as soon as they’re not feeling well.
I’m sharing my story with you today because I believe it’s incredibly important to talk about mental health – to normalize conversations about it. Actually, I think teenagers deserve some credit for talking about it way more than people my parents’ or my grandparents’ age ever did.
I truly believe ours is the generation that can change how the world approaches mental health.
Of course we can’t do it alone. We need initiatives like this Centre. And we need support and understanding from more people like all of you.
To all the individuals and families who are facing mental illness: I promise you there is light.
I have found my light again, and the hope is that this Centre will bring back that light to each and every young person who finds themselves in darkness.
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