In the early 1980’s the business climate was reeling from major economic turmoil. At work, Arnie was struggling with the recession, historically high interest rates, and his workload had grown exponentially. He was also dealing with a couple of major personal blows: his father became terminally ill and a very close friend had serious financial problems and had filed for bankruptcy. Arnie couldn’t sleep at night and felt like he was on a downward spiral, working harder and harder and getting less and less accomplished. Having never been exposed to mental health issues before, Arnie did not recognize the nature or seriousness of his situation.
For a long time he did nothing about it, until one day he realized something was terribly wrong and a friend referred him to a psychiatrist. Unfortunately, at that point his situation had become was so dire that he was diagnosed with a clinical depression and had to be hospitalized. He spent nine days in treatment. Fortunately, medication and talk therapy proved effective, and Arnie soon was able to return to his normal life.
Everything was fine, until several years later, in 1990, he felt well enough to take himself off his medication. His ensuing relapse was yet another wake- up call. To maintain his mental health, Arnie was advised to stay on his medication forever. In 2008, the nationwide financial crash plunged the country into crisis, and Arnie once again found himself struggling and pushing himself past his limits. This triggered a third depressive episode. While less severe than the first one, it kept him in the hospital this time, for four days. It was another important lesson for a man who had become used to challenging himself at every turn and throwing himself into his work.
Arnie realizes that he would have benefitted from some sound mental health education earlier in life. Had he known better, during his first bout of depression, he would have sought treatment much sooner, which may have prevented his situation from deteriorating. To raise public awareness of mental health issues, in the late 1980’s Arnie took a pioneering step and began to speak out publically about his clinical depression. His commitment to mental health advocacy led him to join the Board of Directors of The Clarke Institute in Toronto, where he was initially hospitalized. Along with his attending physician, Arnie created The Clarke Institute Foundation which is now the CAMH Foundation. His career has always been a high priority, but as he nears retirement Arnie now understands the importance of living a more balanced life and taking more time for himself. One thing will never change; he will always be grateful for every morning he wakes up feeling well. After all the challenges he’s been through, Arnie knows he will never take a good day for granted.