30/10/13- Written by Liam Piatelli, a student attending Conestoga College's Journalling Program. Liam contacted Shaelyn in order to interview her and Robin about Tee Up For Mental Health and how it began for a project he was working on. Here is the piece he wrote -
It all started with a day that to Shaelyn Heise, Founder of Tee Up for Mental Health, can be considered as her lowest and also the day she took control of her life.
“This is not happening you are not going to become another statistic,” Heise’s mom told her after she confessed to her mom how she was feeling. After that day she began on a journey to find a cause for the life she was living and began a long road to where she is today.
Tee Up for Mental Health is a charity event ran by Heise and her friend Robin Young. They run an annual indoor golf tournament each year. The next event is on Feb. 29, 2020, look to their website for more information and updates.
The two met through Heise’s boyfriend at the time. Young was dating Heise’s boyfriend’s brother and from being in the same household the two became friends and started this event together from an idea of wanting to give back to an organization that has helped Heise so much.
“We both kinda struggled with mental illness and we were thinking of ways we could give back,” said Young.
Young, who was working at an indoor golf centre at the time and they thought to have the tournament there and raise money for Skills for Safer Living Program. The two planned the event and it became a huge hit and have raised $18 000 to date from the event and have donated the proceeds to Skills for Safer Living Program.
They even had CTV feature them on their “Local Heros” segment on their broadcast in 2018.
“It just makes me so happy,” said Young.
As a child, Young was always outgoing and happy for most of her life. Her struggles really started to bare their teeth when she began working a 5 a.m. -1 p.m. shift at Tim Hortons after she graduated high school.
“I was getting about four hours of sleep a night,” said Young about her time working that early shift.
A perfect storm was brewing right underneath her nose and she had no idea what was happening.
“I just got so used to puking I would go puke and run back to the window and continue,” said Young.
She would throw up several times during the shift and it happened so often she just accepted that it was just a stomach issue. Until she saw her doctor a few times.
“I started to realize this is a little bit more than a stomach issue,” she said.
She started on anti-depressants and felt like she was never herself when she was on them for the three months she took them daily.
“They would knock me out, one time I took them and fell asleep on the toilet,” she said.
Instead, she took a more natural approach to help her situation. Started to change her diet, workout more, use essential oils and cut back on coffee.This paid off in dividends for her as the natural way she found very effective in controlling her anxiety and depression. She is a huge advocate for essential oils as they have really helped her with her headaches and whenever she would feel off.
Heise’s time up until her high-school years was pretty normal as a child, she describes all her friends at the time as she would play around and enjoy her times as all little kids did.
However, one big obstacle she faced was separation anxiety she had with her parents when she began school.
“I had to point out on the little emotion feelings chart the emotions we felt and we played through them,” said Heise describing her time in play therapy when she was seven-years-old.
She doesn’t remember it much but her parents claimed it was a huge help for her and helped her sleep a bit better and with her anxiety.
Once high school began Heise felt alienated from the rest of the school.
“It wasn’t until high school when I was able to speak up for myself and say I don’t want to feel like this all the time,” she said.
In grade nine she kept everything inside pushing her problems deeper and deeper down.
“I was staying at home all day,” she said about her time during grade nine.
After her suicide attempt in grade 10, her life began to change and from the help of her mom, who was a huge advocate for her wellbeing began to make the proper steps to get back on the right path. She went to Waterloo-Oxford District Secondary School and she received a lot of support from her school counsellor who helped her get the accommodations that she needed to succeed in high school.
“The help is there you just have to fight for it,” she said.
A day for Heise in high school would consist of arriving to school, heading to the counsellor’s office, arriving to class 10 minutes late and leaving 10 minutes early. She would do most of her work in the office with the support around her. With this plan around her it benefitted her well and got her through high school. In grade 12, she was apart of a student activity council otherwise known as SAC. She helped organize relay for life, a charity event run by the school that helps fundraise money for cancer research. Participating in this helped her realize that this is something she wants to do, as
Through that newfound calling Heise as well as Young started their organization. The two were met with resounding support from the community and have even spoken at schools. Talking to schools have impacted both of them tremendously. Young talked about a time when they did a presentation at a school in Kitchener called Courtland Public school and the school consisted of grades six, seven and eight. After the presentation, they said that if you wanted to come up and talk to us personally after you can.
“First there was two then three then eight kids,” Young describes the line as it slowly built.
To those kids, Heise and Young felt like an equal to them, not some figure of authority like a teacher or parent, they were a friend, someone to talk to them. Despite the kids only knowing them for that short amount of time, they were comfortable to approach the two and talk to them.
Heise described a time when they spoke at their former high school. As each kid came in certain kids received a red card stating that they were one of five that suffered from mental illness. The card read, “you are one.”
Later on, in the presentation they asked the people who received the card to stand up. The reaction from the gymnasium was incredible and something that Heise will never forget.
“I’m getting chills from thinking about it right now,” she concluded.
Mental health is a topic that in recent years has been discussed more and more. The two at Tee Up for Mental Health have taken notice to this conversation. But they are doing more than just being apart of the conversation. They are creating new conversations to be had.
Fundraising money for an organization that helps people when they are low. They have conversations with many that felt comfortable enough to reach out to two strangers that they just met through a presentation.
Change doesn't happen overnight it's like the stages of the moon slowly overtime it becomes whole again and at that moment everything feels complete.
Like the moon, it's a long journey to make a change and the two at Tee Up for Mental Health are doing their part in creating a change. Taking matters into their own hands.
Helping people across the community to not “become another statistic.”
By Liam Piattelli