My name is Mardi and this is my story.
I was in my third year at the University of Toronto, studying art history and political science on a full scholarship. But beneath my successful exterior, I was unraveling.
With a single mum who was overwhelmed by mental health issues, our housing situation was unstable and we often stayed in shelters or temporary housing. To hide my sense of being different, I concealed my struggles from my classmates and teachers.
I was coping with things on my own. And keeping going. But my usual coping strategies just weren’t working.
Would you like to hear what was going on inside my head?
I’d tell myself, “You’re fine, keep going.” And, “You’re the best of the best. You’ve got to keep your GPA.” And, “Support services are for people who are really sick. That’s not you.” And, finally, one thought, faint but clear, “I need help.”
I learned about LOFT Community Services and how they could help. When my caseworker Andrea came into my life, everything changed. She’s an amazing beacon of light and hope.
How did Andrea help me?
At first, she was my voice. Acting as my advocate to get me the services I needed. And then she helped me find my voice. Acknowledging to myself that I did need help.
And that I was worth helping.
Andrea quickly hooked me up with a psychiatrist and a social worker. Speed is one of LOFT’s great strengths. LOFT helps people now, not in some distant waiting-list future. I discovered new ways to cope with anxiety, depression and substance abuse. And I began to get to know myself, which is the greatest gift of all.
Six months later, I’m in my fourth year at University. I am now a peer support worker at LOFT and when you’re struggling, it really helps to have someone to talk to who’s been there. I’m also part of a Housing Outreach Project, which aims to figure out the best way to provide homes for young people. I’m now applying for my Masters of Social Work.
I say this in praise of LOFT. I want to see this remarkable organization prosper.
LOFT helped me find my voice. And I am almost – almost – unspeakably grateful for their help. Because now I have a future: my life’s work will be to help others find their way.
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