Man with PTSD moves to Sudbury for mental health treatment

A small-town Ontario man decided to make Sudbury his home after not being able to find adequate support for his mental health issues where he lived.

Lack of support in remote areas for victims of abuse

Stephen Budd moved from Parry Sound to Sudbury in order to meet with a therapist twice a month for his mental health issues. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)

A small-town Ontario man decided to make Sudbury his home after not being able to find adequate support for his mental health issues where he lived. 

Stephen Budd has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It took years of going back and forth with doctors to get the diagnosis. He was abused as a child, leaving him to cope with mental and emotional issues. 

Budd realized he needed to see a therapist to treat his PTSD but the resources simply were not available in Parry Sound, Ont., where he was living. In order to see a therapist twice a month, he moved to Sudbury. 

The 52-year-old lives with his golden Labrador retriever in a cluttered and crowded bachelor apartment. He works as a wood carver, making furniture when he can. He says his job earns him a reasonable income when he is working, but admits he has a hard time staying focused. 

"This disability that I have really seems to affect that," he said. "I get part way through or I get started on something and then I get dialled out and it sits for months."

Budd, a recovering alcoholic, says his mental health issues began when he was living in Parry Sound.

"About four years ago, I started waking up with nightmares and I had voices in my ears and I was vomiting down my bed. I don't remember the nightmare, but I would hear voices in my head don't tell dad, don't tell dad and then I would projectile vomit down my bed," he said.

"I went to mental health and they said this sounds like post-traumatic stress disorder."

'My father kicked my ass'

The PTSD sufferer does not sugarcoat his experiences as a child, which includes sexual and physical abuse that led to his condition. 

"My father kicked ass. Period. That was all there was to it. He punched us and kicked us and slapped us and that was a regular course of action," Budd said.

Abused as a child, the 52-year-old spent years seeking a diagnosis before a doctor in Toronto advised him to move to a bigger city for treatment. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)
"He shoved a hose in my mouth and held it full on at 10 years old for I don't know how long because I sprayed a dog with a hose to get it in the pen in our dog kennel. I was doing chores and he caught me spraying the dog, shoved the hose in my mouth and just held it on. Kneed me in the stomach first to get me bent over. That's called waterboarding. It's against the Geneva Convention. How do you get past that?"

Getting treatment was one way to possibly help Budd receive assistance dealing with his mental health issues, but was told there was none available where he lived.

"I said well where do I get treatment? They gave me a telephone number of a women's rape crisis centre in North Bay. And I phoned them and they said 'well, we empathize with you, but this is a women's rape crisis centre and there's not much we can do for you.' And I understand that," he said.

"What was there to do? Stuff it? Try to ignore it?"

Long waits in remote areas

After years of searching for help and dealing with traumatic hallucinations, he was finally diagnosed with PTSD by a doctor in Toronto, who advised him to move to a bigger city in order to receive the help he needs. 

Dr. Donna Ferguson is a psychologist with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health who says there can be long waits to get help in some remote areas. 

"It might be that much more difficult if you have less psychologists or counselors or treatment providers," she said.

There are also issues transferring information about Budd's case from Parry Sound to Sudbury.

"Mental health is a silo onto itself. And you can't get information from one mental health office to another mental health office," said Budd.

"It's very difficult."

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health is trying to make the system more accessible for mental health sufferers, but in the mean time, people such as Budd will have to move in order to receive the support they need.


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