In early 2016, Luciel could feel her mental health deteriorating. She experienced what she called a “mental breakdown.” She didn’t know that her repressed childhood memories were beginning to affect her day-to-day life.

Finding support is challenging; every organization or group has a different requirement of symptoms or requires you to be at a particular stage in your recovery. Luciel didn’t feel like she fit in with any of these services. The programs she would be referred to dealt with family counselling or suicidal ideation but couldn’t address the root cause of her mental health challenges.

Luciel turned to her doctor for help. Her doctor referred her to a private therapist and Heartwood Healing Centre, at the time called The Laurel Centre. While on the waitlist for therapy at Heartwood, Luciel began to open up about her trauma to her private therapist, but she had limited funding for therapy. When her funding ran out, she was  left without anyone to work with her through her newly revisited trauma.

Shortly after, she was contacted by Heartwood, telling her a spot was available for her to continue her healing journey.

“I had horrible anxiety about driving downtown. I went in for my intake interview and the person I saw at that time was very kind and caring. But I was in an emotional fog, so I don’t recall much about the first appointment.

I had parked down the street, and when I got to my car, I had a parking ticket. I was in tears! I phoned my husband, and he calmed me down enough so I could drive back home.

That was my first appointment.

At my second appointment, a couple of weeks later, I managed to drive to the Centre. Still, I was an emotional wreck and unable to find parking. I was driving my husband’s big farm truck instead of my little car making parking even more difficult.

I sat in the lane outside and wept, calling the receptionist to explain that I had an appointment, but I was sorry, I was going to have to cancel because I couldn’t park.

She asked me where I was. I told her that I thought I was behind their building. I was in full-blown panic mode. She asked me to wait there, and she would come outside to give me directions.

When she came to the truck, I was sobbing; I could barely speak and certainly couldn’t drive. She asked if it was okay if she drove for me. I was like a child and nodded yes through my tears.

She drove the truck around a few side streets until we found a spot. The whole time she was calmly speaking to me and telling me where we were. I was still crying and told her I wouldn’t know how to find my truck.

After she parked, she took my mittened hand in hers and led me across the street, pointing out buildings and landmarks so that I could retrace my steps later. She held my hand until we got to Heartwood.

I knew then and there that I was safe.

She recognized that I needed care. A complete stranger took me by the hand and cared for me. I will embrace that memory forever.

I felt like all my life I needed someone to take me by the hand and take care of me”.

In one particularly difficult moment, while waiting for services, Luciel had been feeling suicidal when she received a call from a counsellor at Heartwood.

How she knew I needed her at that time, I will never know. She asked me how I was doing, and I broke down weeping. That day I was not doing well. She talked to me, calmed me, and suggested some grounding exercises. She prevented me from giving up”.

Luciel has participated in Heartwood’s Reflect & Reclaim program for long-term therapy and has attended support groups and Moving Forward Workshops as part of our Connect & Thrive program. Luciel has also completed our Peer Support training and is planning on giving back to the organization through Peer Support mentoring in the new year.

“My therapist has been my hero, my angel in disguise, my sanity and more! I feel like I belong when I am involved with Heartwood. I truly feel that I am blessed to be a part of Heartwood Healing Centre. I thank the funders and supporters of this wonderful Centre”.

Luciel and countless other participants can access these free therapeutic services thanks to the support of people like you. Consider supporting someone’s healing journey by donating to Heartwood Healing Centre today.