Caitlyn struggles to combat her social anxiety and navigate her slight autism. To the point that it was affecting her classes and grades. She would sometimes miss school because of the anxiety it brought her.
"I want to be a normal person, but no one's really normal. Would it be good to be normal?" Caitlyn shares.
Her emotions and mindset started to improve when she began working with The Family Centre's (TFC’s) Success Coach, Erin, and Mental Health Therapist, Brittany.
"I started working with my Success Coach in Highlands [school] in my grade 7 year up until now in grade 12, where I am now working with my therapist, Brittany. It has been a long ride, but I've definitely grown from the person I was when Erin met me in grade 7 until today," Caitlyn explains.
During her time with Erin, they focused on managing big feelings like anxiety and worry. Erin also helped Caitlyn set healthy boundaries with friends and comforted her when she needed support.
"When I started working with Erin more in my grade 8 year, it really helped," Caitlyn says. "She always made me feel like I was worth something, and that's like very special because sometimes I did not feel like I was a good person. She brings me back." Caitlyn adds.
There was an instance when Caitlyn’s mental health situation affected her grades, and she started to flunk in her English class. Erin, the Success Coach, suggested Caitlyn to Brittany, TFC’s Mental Health Therapist, to be another support system. "I was scared to do it at first because I did not know Brittany," Caitlyn expresses her feelings towards her new therapist. As Caitlyn gets know Brittany better, she felt more comfortable opening up to her. "She just feels like family in a way," Caitlyn adds.
Brittany regulated Caitlyn's negative thinking patterns by reminding her to envision a red stop sign when she sees herself contemplating unhelpful thoughts. Caitlyn can now manage her thoughts better– "I stop thinking of those crazy thoughts that are probably not even true."
The most significant change Caitlyn noticed in her relationship while working with our Success Coach and Therapist was her openness to her parents and other people. "I feel like I am more open with them [my parents] now, unlike before when I was more shunned. Even with other people, I am honest with them when I feel hurt." Caitlyn now realizes that her parents are there for her, and she knows her ground.
Caitlyn encourages people who are going through a similar situation as her not to give up. "It might feel like the worst thing at the moment. Believe me, I've been there many times where I've just felt like I'm not worthy of living. But you are worthy. You are here for a reason. Your reason might not show its presence right now, but it will eventually. Just know that whoever you are, I am proud of you for trying because trying is progress."
Because of all of these growths and achievements that Caitlyn experienced, she gets to see a brighter future. Her dreams are to be at ease with herself, travel the world, advocate for autism awareness, and help as many people as possible.
"I've had in my mind speaking up on a podium, speaking to people, and advocating for autism awareness. If it does come, I would love to [do it]."
Caitlyn has a chance to speak at Eastglen school for World Autism Awareness day. She may now accomplish one of her dream: To speak and advocate for autism.