“The psychiatrist had a book on borderline personality disorder,” Cameron Duff said. “I had not heard of it. And she said it is characterized by anger, profound loneliness, hopelessness. She went through a list of symptoms and I said, that is her. That is my daughter.”
Unlike other families with troubled adolescents, the Duffs had a diagnosis. What they didn’t have was an effective treatment. And then began a desperate search. “We went into hyperdrive,” Katherine’s mother Doris told W5. “We saw possibilities when we read the stuff about the U.S. treatment facilities. But we saw no hope for treatment in Canada.”
The family applied to the Ontario Health Insurance Plan, OHIP, asking for funding to send their daughter to Boston’s McLean Hospital. Eventually, their application would be rejected but while waiting, their crisis suddenly deepened. When Katherine was 16, she made a second and far more serious attempt to end her life, taking a massive overdose of medication prescribed for her bipolar disorder.
“I’d just come home from volunteer work,” she said, “I went to my room. It was like, nothing is changing, my life is meaningless, I’m worthless, this is never going to end and I want the pain to stop.”
Katherine was rushed to hospital. While recovering, her parents decided they could wait no longer. Her father said, “It was literally at that point, I just took one more kick at the government (OHIP) and said, listen, you have got to do something here and they said no. So I picked up the phone and called McLean in Boston and said, we’re coming.”