On suicide watch, Margarita finds happiness again

Margarita was born in Canada and for a while lived with her mom, step-dad, sister and brother. Her mom was a roller coaster — she was on top of the world and then terribly depressed. When Margarita was nine, her mother’s mood swings were diagnosed as bi-polar disorder.

Margarita had a good relationship with her step-dad, but her mom’s behaviour drove him away when she was 12-years old. Her mother spiralled downward and took her kids with her.

Soon, Margarita’s brother moved to his own place because he couldn’t take it.

“I started thinking negative thoughts and wanted to give up on life,” Margarita remembers. “My mother would tell me that l was so bad and lazy — she would constantly put me down.”

One day, Margarita’s mom told her “she wished she had aborted” Margarita.

“This was my breaking point and that day was the first time I slit my wrist, says Margarita.

She was hospitalized at Sunnybrook Hospital and diagnosed with depression and anxiety.

Margarita continues cutting herself

At Sunnybrook, Margarita tells the psychiatrist about her mother and her life at home. She was then referred to Sancta Maria House, but the self harm didn’t stop.

“I continued cutting myself and l was so depressed that I couldn‘t get up in the morning to go to school,” says Margarita. “Instead of yelling and screaming at me like my mother did, Sancta Maria House staff would talk with me about my life and how they could help me to cope.”

Margarita continued to see her psychiatrist at Sunnybrook and Sancta Maria House staff was invited to sit in on some of her sessions.

“This was really helpful,” says Margarita. “I started gradually getting up and going to school and attending my classes.”

Friendship formed for life

Margarita was able to get all her credits to graduate from high school. Sancta Maria House staff threw her a graduation party.

“One thing that I will never forget is the friendships I made with the other girls at
Sancta Maria House,” says Margarita. “We had lots of fun memories together and we will be friends for life.

During her time at Sancta Maria House, Margarita visited her mother often and their relationship got better over the years. When she turned 19, she decided to return home.

“I realized that my mother needed me and I felt that l could help her,” said Margarita.

Sancta Maria House continues to supportMargarita through the After Care program. The after care worker checks in with her once a month to see how things are going.

“I am so thankful to all the staff that helped me along the way and gave me all the words of encouragement and praise,” says Margarita “Without their help l would not be where I am today.”

Newcomer and abused, Sandra find stability and a new beginning

Sandra was born in Nigeria and raised by her mom until she passed away when Sandra was seven. Then Sandra’s grandmother looked after her until she was 12-years old.

When most kids are getting ready for their final year of middle school and trying to figure out who they are in relation to their peers, Sandra moved across the Atlantic to live with her dad and step-mom — she found herself in a new country, culture, and family with no friends. Her father and step mom had two children together.

“My I felt like an outcast; I spent most of my days in my room crying,” says Sandra. “I tried to be a good daughter but whatever I did was never good enough.”

Sandra’s father would hit her and call her stupid, she said.

“I remember one day when my step-mom beat me up so bad that I ran away from home,” says Sandra. “I slept in a park that night, because I had nowhere else to go.”

Guidance counsellor intervenes to help Sandra

At school the next day, a teacher found Sandra crying and took her to see the guidance counsellor. Sandra, teary eyed, opened up to her counsellor about her abuse at home. Her counsellor suggest Sancta Maria House.

Sandra went for a tour, but was unsure about living in a group home. She gave it a try and found it hard at first.

“I hated strangers telling me what I could and could not do; I swore at staff, was rude to them, and would not complete my chores,” recounts Sandra. “Even though I was so disrespectful to the staff they were still kind to me.”

One day, Sandra got into trouble at school and was sent home for the day. When she got home, staff listened to her. They went to school with her the following day and supported her in talks with the Vice Principal.

“Since I came to Canada. it was the first time that an adult really listened to me, believed me, and took my side,” says Sandra.

Sandra reconnects with her family

After some time, Santa Maria House staff encouraged Sandra to call her dad. She was hestiant but missed her family.

“My dad was happy to hear from me and we both cried, says Sandra. “With help of the staff our relationship got better.”

Hey family visited her at Sancta Maria House and were happy that she was in a safe place.

After graduating from Sancta Maria House, Sandra rented affordable housing at Quinn House, while studying social science at York University.