A Story of Hope
“I looked at her and thought this is not what nervous looks like. That’s when we got it. She’s sick, she needs our help; we need to do something.”
This was Valerie Pringle’s reaction upon finding her daughter Catherine paralyzed, lying on her bed in the fetal position, and crying uncontrollably.
“We were in a crisis state,” continues Valerie, one of Canada’s most accomplished and popular television hosts.
A recent university graduate, Catherine had just started her first career job and was experiencing some anxiety and a sense of being overwhelmed. Day by day, those feelings mounted, until the all-out panic attack struck. Vibrating with rigidity, Catherine was rushed to her family doctor and prescribed anti-anxiety medication to unlock her muscles. The diagnosis was anxiety and depression.
Referred to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Catherine began talk therapy and later cognitive behavioural therapy. From the first session, everything changed. She was able to narrow down the types of anxiety she suffered and understand the physiological reaction when experiencing anxiety or a panic attack. “It was almost like one of those light bulb moments in a cartoon. Everything made sense. It was so educational for me,” says Catherine.
Her family joined her on the journey of discovery. “It was absolutely something that we had to learn about,” says Valerie. “It was the beginning of our family’s education about mental illness.”
For Catherine, support from family and friends was instrumental. “You feel very alone when you are going through something like this. You don’t feel like yourself and you wonder if you will ever feel like yourself again. Having family members and friends walk with you every step of the way, both literally and figuratively, was very helpful.”
After taking part in an awareness campaign for CAMH in 2008, Catherine and her mother instantly became a beacon for others struggling with mental illness. “People were finding me on Facebook,” says Catherine, “and stopping my mum on the street to ask for advice.”
Now outspoken mental health advocates, the Pringles will bring their hopeful message to the 2011 Breakfast of Champions on April 7. Presented in partnership by St. Joseph’s Health Care Foundation and the Canadian Mental Health Association, the event raises awareness about and funds for mental health programs in the London community.