My name is Keira. I’m a 27 year old divorced mother of two. I have fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, PTSD, borderline personality disorder, ADHD, severe chronic depression, generalized anxiety disorder as well as bipolar. They do not define who I am. I am so much more than a label.
So I know that I have issues controlling my emotions. I’m impulsive, I have poor judgment which often leads me to make a lot of bad choices, which often gets me into trouble. I tend to get involved with people who take advantage of me, and jump into unhealthy relationships. My problem isn’t that I don’t understand what’s wrong with me; it’s that most other people don’t.
So like I said, I am a mother of 2. My beautiful daughter is 8, and my amazing son is 6. My children however are unable to live with me due to several issues in my life, past and present. I was molested at the age of 6 by my uncle. I never spoke of it until I was 26. I also had my first suicide attempt at 6. I continued attempting suicide throughout my life.
At 18 I went through my first neurological psychiatric evaluation. This was done in order for me to receive all the funding and supports necessary for me to have a successful college experience. It was recommended that I should attend a life skills program before pursuing further post-secondary education. I had a very different plan however. Since childhood, I had said that I was going to be a chef when I grew up and I wasn’t giving up until I succeeded. I had already achieved something that many thought I would not. I graduated high school. So why couldn’t I succeed in college? There were no if’s and’s or but’s about it, I was following my dream of becoming a chef. I went to college where I received my 2nd year apprenticeship in culinary arts.
Shortly after graduating I moved with my boyfriend to BC and became pregnant with my first child. 19 months later I had my second child and then married Mike, the father of my two children. We had several moves throughout this time. I was also still struggling with my mental heath going untreated and still constantly contemplating suicide on a daily basis. Instead of seeking help I continued to live in silence as I was afraid of being deemed as crazy and an unfit mother.
I went through some extremely tough times I divorced my husband, and made the difficult decision to leave my children with their father due to my financial and mental instability. Followed by a string of several bad relationships, a tubal pregnancy and going as far as moving across Canada to New Brunswick to be with a guy I was dating who moved back there. My parents begged me not to go but when I make up my mind, there is no changing it.
After 3 months in New Brunswick, I swallowed my pride, admitted I had made a huge mistake making the move. I made the difficult call to my parents asking to come home.
At this point in time I was battling silently with severe depression alongside many other mental health problems. I was a “cutter” and I hid my cutting extremely well after returning home from New Brunswick with more than 200 cuts on my body. When cutting was no longer enough, I turned to drugs and alcohol which I also hid very well.
This is when by the grace of God my amazing mentor from the Lake Land Centre for FASD, Candice, entered my life. I didn’t want to let anyone in my life I didn’t want people to know how bad I was suffering. So I pushed her and everyone else in my life away.
It was November of 2011 when Candice was assigned to me. I went through the motions saying what people wanted to hear and doing what everyone wanted me to do. Candice helped me get on assistance, got me to go to my doctor to get on much needed anti-depressants. I was doing the bare minimum, but enough to hide how seriously sick I was.
I was very secretive, distant, dishonest and even uncooperative with Candice; as I felt that I was no more than a paycheck to her. I mean come on, how much could someone really care for another person that they are paid to spent time with?
Once on income support, it was recommended to Candice and I that it would be beneficial if I applied for AISH. In doing so I had to endure a second neuro-psych evaluation again with Dr. Monty Nelson spending an exhausting 8 hour day doing tests.
Only this time I was extremely open and honest with not only Dr. Monty but for the first time with myself. I was still resisting having any kind of relationship or bond with Candice. Looking back now, I can only imagine how frustrating and discouraging it must have been for her.
We received the results of my neuro-psych eval on February 3rd 2012 which also happened to be my daughters 6th birthday. So between receiving the devastating results of my evaluation and being unable to spend my daughters special day with her I spiralled downwards extremely fast. The next 2 days are a complete blur filled with extreme drug use and alcohol consumption. On February 5th 2012, unable to deal any longer, I attempted suicide. I was transferred to St. Paul Psych Ward after being stabilized at the Cold Lake Hospital.
After 11 days in St. Paul, I was released, only days later to rush me to the emergency room with a massive anxiety attack sending me back to St. Paul for further treatment. I spent the next month in the psych ward. Throughout that month, I finally admitted my drug and alcohol addiction. It was decided that I would apply and attend a treatment centre for mental health and addictions. I was released from St. Paul on the conditions that once my bed in Claresholm was ready, I would go.
There was a month’s wait from the time I was discharged from St. Paul until I was admitted into the treatment centre. I spent the next 2 and a half months in the treatment centre. I returned home to Cold Lake July 6th, having had myself released from treatment early. Unfortunately, I was returning home to an addict boyfriend and only remained clean and sober for 2 weeks. I was so disappointed and ashamed of myself. so I hid the relapse from everyone. I continued going to AADAC, counseling and several women’s groups that were offered through the Lakeland centre for FASD and the Cold Lake Women’s Shelter.
I got to spend a week with my children for the first time in over 6 months. It was the best feeling in the world having my children back with me, even if it was only for a short period of time. I remained clean and sober for the duration of their visit. But once they went back home to their dad, it was a whole other story. I completely fell apart.
I was still in my relationship with Shane, who was also an addict. At this time, he had moved in with me and we were both using almost daily. August 16th, 2012 I again attempted suicide. I had hit rock bottom and I hit it hard. I was heart-broken about my kids going home and not knowing when I would be allowed to see them again. I hated myself for not being able to remain clean and sober, and my relationship with Shane had become very verbally and emotionally abusive as well as controlling. I ended up in the intensive care unit at the Royal Alex on life support in a coma. My mom and I were air lifted to the Royal Alex. At that point, I was in very critical condition and not expected to survive. My family was prepared to say their last goodbyes.
By some miracle, I pulled through making a full recovery.
It has been a long battle, and since then everyday is a struggle for me.
Going through months of abuse with Shane, continued drug use, Shane going to jail not once, but twice for actions against me. I have accepted my past, my many illnesses and realized that these things do not define me. It’s been a long hard road for me but through medication, counseling, and education about my illnesses I have become so much stronger.
After Shane went to jail for the second time, I felt the need for a fresh start, I needed to learn to take care of myself. It was time to stand on my own 2 feet again. On July 1st 2013, I moved out of Cold Lake to a town outside of Edmonton. With the help and encouragement of my friends and family I am now 2 years free from cutting and self-harm. This August will be 2 years since my last ever suicide attempt, I am also 1 year drug free. I’m seeing my kids on a regular basis and helping my 8 year old daughter fight her battle with mental health. I’m in a successful relationship with someone who understands my mental health and supports and encourages me everyday no matter how bad a day I’m having.
I gained the confidence to do my best and I now know I can achieve anything I put my mind to. I now have hope and faith in me that was never there. I see light in all my darkness. It’s now my life’s goal to be a voice for those who haven’t found theirs yet, I’m not ashamed of who I am any more. I’m proud of who I am and want nothing more than to help people see that mental health is no different than illnesses such as diabetes and it needs to be treated. I want to be a voice of hope. My goal is to raise awareness about mental health and suicide prevention. My name is Keira and I am a warrior not a victim and I will not allow my illness to define me!
Keira is a 27 year old divorced mother of two living in Canada. She hopes to raise awareness for mental health and suicide prevention.