In June 2012, Augustina relocated to Edmonton, Alberta wanting to start a new chapter in her life.
A few weeks before she started her new job, she began to experience hallucinations. One instance occurred late at night, she was taking the garbage outside, and she thought she heard a noise; she looked back and saw an image of her ex on the glass door. She immediately screamed and ran back inside. In September 2012, due to the stress and pressure of her new job, Augustina began having sleepless nights. She began staying late at work and stopped taking breaks so that she could try and get more work done. One day in her office, she heard a little voice whisper in her ear, the voice told her “This is a test”, “You’re on a mission”. She looked around to see if one of her co-workers were playing a joke on her. There was no one there.
These voices began speaking to her for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They told her that any food that was not cooked by her was poisoned, so she stopped eating. She then went into Psychosis. Psychosis is defined as involving a loss of contact with reality. The next few days became harder and harder as the voices would criticize her about everything she was doing. One day when she went to work, her boss asked her if she needed help and she told her yes. A few hours later, Augustina was admitted into the Psychiatric Hospital.
At this point, her mind, body and soul was so exhausted she could barely speak. Before going to bed on day one, a nurse came in and asked if she would like some medication to help her sleep. She agreed, and Augustina slept for over 24 hours straight. The next few days in the hospital, Augustina and her Dad (who had flew in from Ontario) had meetings with the Psychiatrist who agreed to let her leave only if she agreed to get treatment back in Ontario. In October 2012, Augustina returned to Ontario however, she had lost 40 pounds from not eating and was merely skin and bones. She continued to hear voices and began to have suicidal thoughts.
Finally in January of 2013, she was accepted into her local hospital program called The Phoenix Program which is designed for individuals who are experiencing psychosis for the first time. She had a nurse, social worker, occupational therapist and a psychiatrist.
The road to recovery is not easy, it is not a straight ladder and is a constant struggle. Augustina used a variety of techniques to help her find her passion for life again such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Art Therapy, dance, poetry and journaling. She also found that allowing God to move through her life has given her strength to continue telling her story. She finds it imperative to focus on how best to take care of one’s mind, body and spirit.
Augustina hopes that by sharing her story, others will feel empowered to share theirs. In order to change the narrative surrounding mental health and to combat the stigma, society must change the way mental health/illness is viewed. Sharing stories supports change, and patients stories are powerful and must be heard.
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