On Wednesday, May 2, as part of Edge School’s Mental Health Week, Kaitlin Hrudey (Class of 2011) visited Edge School and spoke with our students about her experience with mental illness.
While most of her friends and classmates didn’t know it, Kaitlin was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and severe anxiety when she was 11. After working with a psychologist through her middle school years, Kaitlin explains that when she began at Edge School in grade ten she was “having more good days than bad.”
Edge School provided an environment where she could study and pursue her passion for dance, but dealing with her mental health issues continued to be a challenge.
Today, Kaitlin speaks openly about her challenges and she has found strength and support in reaching out and asking for help. However, going public with her mental health challenges initially seemed risky. She explains, “At first, my parents were nervous about the hate and the negativity that can come on social media, but I decided to take the risk. To this day, I have had only positive comments. It has just been so incredible; I can’t thank people enough for supporting me.”
During her presentation at Edge School, Kaitlin explained that she speaks about her mental health issues in the hope that she can help reduce the stigma associated with mental illness and perhaps help others who are facing their own challenges.
After she spoke, she opened the floor to questions. Students, particularly students in the younger age groups, had several questions for Kaitlin. She handled the questions gracefully, with patience and honesty.
One student asked Kaitlin if her OCD is as bad now as it was when she was 11. Kaitlin replied, “No, because I have the tools now that help me to stop my obsessive thoughts from becoming too obsessive.” She added, “Having someone to talk to like my parents and my sisters has really helped a lot. They keep me calm and help me rationalize the obsessive thoughts that I have.”
Kaitlin’s story is a personal one, and it carries an important message: it can get better. “I want everyone to know that if you are dealing with mental illness, it can get better, and I am an example of that.”