What is Homewood?
The Homewood Health Centre is a private mental health institution (a psychiatric hospital – or sanitarium as it was called at the time of its creation, more than 130 years ago) located in Guelph, Ontario. According to their web site:
We are unique in Canadian healthcare. We are a 300-bed mental health and addiction facility located on 50-acres on the banks of the Speed River in Guelph, Ontario. We help to improve the lives of people in our community and throughout Canada by delivering highly specialized care.
Other than the Homewood Health Centre, the Homewood Health umbrella comprises several mental health and addiction outpatient care facilities throughout Canada, as well as a research facility: the Homewood Research Institute. Homewood Health is owned by RBJ Schlegel Holdings, which also owns Schlegel Villages, a group of about 18 retirement homes in Southern Ontario. I have frequented one of these Villages prior to my seizure, when I was volunteering for the Canadian Mental Health Association, and it is a nice establishment.
From now on, and for the sake of brevity, I will refer to the Homewood Health Centre as Homewood, and to the Program for Traumatic Stress Recovery as PTSR.
PTSR: the Program for Traumatic Stress Recovery
Although I have been functional almost my entire life, I had not realised until recently how traumatic my childhood had been and how much it had affected me on so many levels. As a young adult I even managed to build my own life and have my own family. I happily went on with my life: I thought I had left the years of abuse behind me, forgotten for good.
But at the age of 40 a chain of events happened in a very short period of time, and their compounded effects summoned back the demons of my past, and provoked what I now recognise as a PTSD episode. It started with flashbacks, nightmares, panic attacks, hypervigilance, and at the same time I fell in a very deep depression.
I was scared: I did not know what was happening to me, so I went to see my GP who quickly identified a severe depression and a high state of anxiety. He asked me a few questions, and it became apparent that my past abuse as a child was causing a state of distress that was rendering me totally unable to perform normally in my daily life: I was immediately put on medical leave and started medication and counselling.
At the age of 40 a chain of events happened in a very short period of time, and their compounded effects summoned back the demons of my past
So apparently, there is such thing as a midlife crisis.
After two months of leave I returned to work. I was feeling a little better, but it took me a good two years to gain back control over my life. I had made a lot of progress through talk therapy, EMDR and had found the right medication. I resumed my life, considered myself “cured” and forgot about it all. I even felt well enough to eventually quit meds and counselling.
Things went well for over a year, but symptoms eventually came back unexpectedly, causing me to fall back into a brutal relapse. I resumed treatment, and I elbowed my way through life, working at day, crying at night.
Last autumn something happened at work that triggered me badly and caused a permanent state of hypervigilance that was to last at least four months. I don’t know how I survived the sleep deprivation, the jumpiness and the constant fear of impending doom. I was in a rough shape and I knew that if I wanted to survive I had to tackle this PTSD problem.
I decided to go to Homewood and undergo the PTSR program.
Searching for information
It is not a light decision to take, especially given that I have to fund the stay myself (my insurance plan won’t cover this treatment), so I started to research on line. The only useful information I was able to find was from Homewood’s own web site, but I wanted to find out more.
To validate my decision of applying for the PTSR program, I started looking for first-hand accounts but unfortunately I couldn’t find any. People are not necessarily willing to expose themselves and talk about their stay at a psychiatric hospital, so I understand that there is little to be found on line. As a result, information is scarce and I wish I could have put my hands on more before taking the leap.
This is why I intend to write about my personal experience at Homewood. I hope it will help people decide whether or not PTSR at Homewood is what they are looking for.
2017-11-15 Update – After a couple of unsuccessful attempts, recounting my stay at Homewood is proving much more difficult than I thought. I have decided that I am not going to write a post (or a series of posts) about the PTSR treatment from the perspective of a patient, but if you happen to have landed on this page because you want to know more about it, I will be happy to answer your questions in the comments section for this post (and continue in private if need be). I will just end this by saying that while the treatment did meet my expectations, it is not for everyone and you have to have done part of the work beforehand. PTSR is not a treatment for people in crisis: you have to be stable enough to participate, and you have to have done some processing work beforehand, because as of 2017, the PTSR does not focus on memory processing.
Despite this post being titled “1. Introduction” there will be no further posts on the topic.