Mental Health

A Story about LOST, a Mental Health Organization in Hamilton, ON

Written by Emily Baker

When I decided to leave my old life behind and begin anew in May 2018, I did just that. I wanted to build and create an environment I could thrive in, despite struggling immensely with my mental health. I finally had an opportunity to do “me,” and on the first night in my new place, I started Googling. Where could I get help? Where did I not have to be on a two-year waiting list? Where could I access free services? Where could I come and talk about the mess in my mind? Suddenly, The LOST Organization came up. I immediately emailed my therapist. I wanted to hear her thoughts. And she encouraged me… Go! See what they are all about! Email them! Go for it, Emily! 

So, I sent an email. At 3 am. Anxious, but hopeful that THIS would be the resource I had been dreaming about. I received an amazing response, thought about it for a week or so, got the courage to go and ask questions.. I tried out the peer support group that afternoon, and I have never looked back. 

The welcoming atmosphere and the beautiful souls I met that day (and also leaving my shoes at the door!! What is better than no shoes?!) had me coming back. I started with one group a week, then two.. and before I knew it, LOST was my second home. The vibe and energy were incredibly calming, which is exactly what I needed when my mind was in turmoil. 

A photo of Emily Baker and Rebecca Taube. Shirts by Own Your Stigma, ownyourstigma.com.

I have struggled with my mental health (and have quite a resume of diagnoses) for as long as I can remember. But I began to discover I was struggling, unknowingly, with something I couldn’t even comprehend…Addiction. 

The first time I met Rebecca, the founder and heart and soul of LOST, I was a mess. I didn’t even know who she was, what her name was, nothing. But she asked me to sit down and talk. And I exploded into unbelievable sobs, and she was the first person I admitted my addiction to. She gave me her card and her number to text when I needed. I put the card in my pocket and left – it wasn’t until I got home that I looked at it, knew her name, and her role within the organization. I put the card on my bedside table (and it is still there!!) and reached out a few days later. 

I needed help, but I didn’t know what or how.. nothing. So I messaged her and asked if she would come to my doctor’s appointment with me. And she did. And she helped me speak. And I was offered help. I tried over and over to decline, but with such love and encouragement, I accepted. 

We still didn’t “know” each other. We got to know each other during a week-long stay in hospital, detoxing. She was there every second she could be and texting every second she couldn’t. 

I kept going to LOST, group after group, and unfortunately had a massive relapse, that I am still caught in. I admitted it. I had prepared myself to be asked to leave… but it was just the opposite. I was told to come. Come every time I needed safety and comfort. If that was every day, just come!! They have this amazing clubhouse atmosphere where anyone can go AS THEY ARE! So I went as often as I could. I even created a little space in the backroom to just “be.” To sit. To talk. To sleep. Wherever I was at.. I went. Because I was 100% accepted by every single member of the LOST community, and I never had to pretend or put on a fake smile for anyone. I could just be “me.” 

The support was, is, unwavering. It’s beautiful. It makes me tear up when I sit and think about it. I’ve never been able to be ME. And with some Googling, an email, a chance, and conversation, my world changed for the better. Every day more and more love, kindness and acceptance are poured out not only to me but to every single person who walks through that door. Never, in 31 years, have I felt the magnitude of support that I feel at LOST. 

No, I am not recovered. I fight my many mental health battles every single day. I’m still in a 13-month relapse with addiction. But I still go to LOST and just “be.” Because it is the safest I have ever felt, and there is always an ear to listen. There are no judgements. No stigma. Just love and understanding.

And I have never felt so blessed. 


LOST is an amazing mental health organization in Hamilton and is at risk of closing its doors. They need your help.

There’s a couple of ways you can help out:

  1. Donate directly at this link.
  2. Follow me on Instagram @itsjessicavictoria, message me, “I want to help LOST.” I will personally donate $0.50 for every person that does this.
  3. Contact Emily at embaker36@gmail.com for other ways to help out.

For more information about LOST, please visit www.wearelost.org.

 

Jessica Victoria
<p>Jessica Victoria, 24, is a writer and advocate for mental health, disability and LGBTQ+. She uses her personal experiences and knowledge to help and educate others.</p>

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