Stephen Sax

On July 18th, 2015 I suffered my second stroke at the age of 33. My wife noticed the signs right away as I was slouching over on the couch, my left side paralyzed, and I lost awareness of my surroundings. She quickly called the paramedics and within ½ hour I was on my way to Sunnybrook hospital where I was quickly treated and things began to improve.

Sax

Over the past 12 months, I would say I was living in a nightmare: I was confronted by many mental health issues that I had never experienced before. From severe anxiety and depression, which involved many nights crying myself to sleep, and not feeling like ‘myself’ in many situations. Continuing on was not easy; it was the most difficult time I have ever been through. I searched for ways to recover and tried everything that was suggested to help with my recovery. I went through neuro, cardiac rehab, and a cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) group at Toronto Rehab. I completed mindfulness & meditation classes and psychotherapy at Sunnybrook, as well as yoga and running. I don’t believe that any part was the sole reason for my recovery, but I took pieces from everything I learned, and together I feel like I found a solution that worked for me.

I am so grateful for all the support I received throughout the process: my family, my kids, my work, my friends, and so many people I met along the way that have inspired me and driven me to be better. From a good friend I made in my CBT Group (who was diagnosed with MS in her late 20s with two young children) who continues to be a great friend and supporter, to a person I met in my Mindfulness class at Sunnybrook (whose name I do not know) who was practicing being mindful and living in the moment after receiving a terminal brain cancer diagnosis.

I have learned so much over the past year and I hope to be able to inspire others in the future the way I have been inspired. I am so grateful for all the support I have received and I truly wouldn’t be in this position without it.

Running was a major part of my recovery and I have continued my cardiac training I began at Toronto Rehab to increase my distances to a point where I completed my first 10K race on June 25th (less than a year after my stroke). Over that period I have lost more than 30 pounds and I consider myself in the best shape of my life. The RBC Race for the Kids caught my eye as a great opportunity to increase my distance and support a great cause. From personal experience, my family and I agree that we had a very difficult time finding resources and a support team to help me with my mental health. Whether it be doctors not accepting new patients, or long wait lists, getting help in a timely manner when it is needed is very difficult. I am so proud to be raising money to support the Family Navigation Project, where young people suffering with mental health and addiction issues can find the support they need when they need it.

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