In 2012 when Lauren began high school in her hometown of Moncton, NB, she started to experience symptoms of Selective Mutism (SM), an anxiety disorder that left her unable to speak in specific situations.
Soon, Lauren’s SM progressed to the point where she could only speak at home.
One year later, Lauren also began to experience Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Initially, her impulses would cause her to turn the shower on and off three times, or lead her to believe she had to wear certain colours in order to pass tests. Shortly after graduating, Lauren’s had an OCD impulse that she could not speak at all. As a result, she went completely mute. Unlike her SM, the OCD was not causing vocal cord paralysis, but the belief she could not speak at all - even at home.
After six days of silence, her psychiatrist referred her to the IWK Emergency Department, where she was admitted to the Garron Centre for Child & Adolescent Mental Health, the inpatient mental health unit at the IWK.
The atmosphere of the Garron Centre was bright, colorful, and promoted recovery.
~Lauren Whiteway, IWK patient
Today, Lauren is an active volunteer in her community. Recently, she started teaching curling basics to youth, became a literacy tutor for grade 2 students at her former elementary school, and joined the speaker’s bureau run by the mental health and addictions team at her local hospital. She credits the IWK with teaching her skills to help her manage her OCD.