Diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) at age eight, Michael Daman’s mental illness and subsequent complications came close to ruining his life, if not ending it.
When friends his age were out riding their bikes, as a child Daman, who is now 30, was trapped indoors, washing his hands so frequently they would crack and bleed. “I was afraid of germs,” he says. “I was afraid to do anything outside of my own home. My school work and friendships, everything took a back seat to my OCD.”
Daman’s illness progressed as he aged. “When I was a little older, my OCD transformed more into unwanted and intrusive thoughts that I would try to push away by performing a compulsion,” he explains. “Mine was typically to brush my teeth, up to 50 or more times per day, just trying to chase these thoughts away. It got to the point where my doctor was concerned that I was doing damage to my teeth.”
Then, things went from bad to worse. “In my early 20s, I started using alcohol and drugs as a way of coping with my OCD. They were connected to my mental illness, very much so. I started to drink alone. I used it from morning ‘til night. And then I’d wake up and have to deal with a worsened OCD because I’d been drinking,” says Daman.
At age 23 he suffered liver failure and was put on dialysis at St. Boniface Hospital. His condition worsened, and they were about to administer last rites, but he pulled through and his liver has since healed almost completely.
“That’s thanks to the excellent care I received at St. Boniface Hospital. I’m here today to tell the story.“
Today, Daman is in treatment for his addictions. “I don’t think I would have reached this point without help from the Hospital. I don’t even know if I’d be alive today if it wasn’t for the Mental Health Program, to be quite honest with you.”
Inspired by his caregivers at the Hospital, Michael is enrolled at Brandon University, studying to become a psychiatric nurse himself. “Everyone deserves a chance to overcome their struggles, and to achieve a level of happiness and success in life that might seem unattainable right now. I would like to be an example of that,” he says.
“Honestly, my future has never looked brighter. I can dream of things again, which was lost to me for a long time. To a donor I would say, ‘Thank you for helping to save my life.’ Because without your support, I could very easily have been dead by now.”
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