Inspirational Stories QCH Foundation ottawa

Full-circle moment for QCH patient: Ava-Grace shares her experience with mental health

Written by Ava-Grace Sliwa – QCH Patient, QCH Family Advisory Council Member, Giftshop Volunteer, Patient Advisor in Pharmacogenomics at the University of Calgary, and Full-Time Student at the University of Ottawa.  

She is a former inpatient and current outpatient of the QCH Mental Health Program, who personally understands the profound impact The Barbara Crook and Dan Greenberg Mental Health Centre will have in our community:

For as long as I can remember I have struggled with obsessive compulsive disorder, or more commonly known as OCD. An illness where my world was taken over by uncontrollable and repetitive thoughts, causing me to engage in time-consuming compulsions in an effort to manage the distress caused by the persistent thoughts.   

With the widespread rise of anxiety caused by arrival of the pandemic in 2020, and the unprecedented slow-down of my life as I knew it; permitted me to spend many long days with few distractions from the amplifying intrusive thoughts in my mind.   

Even with support of my loving family, psychotherapist, and family doctor, I declined rapidly to a stage where I believed it would be better not to be alive than continue to fight a battle with no end in sight.  

After a visit to a different hospital’s emergency department, where my struggle was not taken seriously, and was refused a consultation with psychiatry. Later in March 2021, I was admitted to the QCH inpatient mental health unit for several weeks. A combination of recurring inpatient admissions, many treatments of electro-convulsive therapy, and various outpatient programs allowed me to have my life back better than ever before, in July of 2022.   

Fast-forward to today, I am thriving as a student living away from home, where my greatest challenge is attempting to cook food as well as my mom and making the time to do my laundry every week.  

The opening of The Barbara Crook and Dan Greenberg Mental Health Centre is a significant milestone of hope for the many people like me navigating mental illness requiring specialized care.   

Additionally, this an immense indicator of progress towards addressing the stigma of mental illness, a reminder to the community that the demand is constantly increasing and institutions require these improvements to meet the needs of the population.  

The opening of this centre brings promise to patients’ families looking for reassurance that there are high-quality facilities ready to provide synergistic treatment with the QCH staff that already excel in every domain as care providers.   

I am incredibly grateful to each of our many donors, especially Barbara Crook and Dan Greenberg, for their generous investment into the wellbeing of our loved ones, people like you make it possible for myself and thousands of others to redefine what it means to be alive. So on my behalf and the others of Ottawa and beyond relying on Queensway’s mental health services, we thank you. 

How can you support ongoing mental health initiative at QCH?  

Specialized equipment and furniture are needed for the new Mental Health Centre. If you would like to help provide patients with the most comfortable and therapeutic environment for care, please click here to learn more.