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This is my story...
In September 2016 four weeks after the birth of my second son, my partner of 7years decided to leave me and went straight into another relationship.
I was devastated, but I carried on and looked after my boys the best I could. I often came to King Street surgery in Kempston and was diagnosed and treated for postnatal depression.
6months later in February 2017 I became acutely unwell. I had an autoimmune disease called Hashimotos disease which meant my thyroid had completely stopped producing thyroxine, my TSH was off the scale. My Dad and one of my nurse colleagues dragged me to King Street surgery, because I was acting out of character. The crisis team were contacted and came straight to the surgery. I was sedated then I was taken to Weller wing in Bedford via police car and sectioned. Because it was a medical condition as well as a mental health condition I initially spent some time on the AAU unit in Bedford hospital, where they commenced the thyroxine. Unfortunately your thyroxine levels have to be built up gradually and takes months for these levels to normalise so although treatment had started I was suffering from severe post partum pychosis.
I spent a few days on AAU and then transferred back to Weller Wing where unfortunately I deteriorated, I would not eat, I was aggressive, I hallucinated, I thought irrational thoughts and believed things that were not real and accused people of things they had not done. I was so scared I screamed until I could no longer hear my voice. I had two to one care. I slept for 1hour in 2weeks. I eventually was in seclusion and my family were unable to visit me. I do not remember a lot of what happened, I get flash backs but have to rely on what family and friends say I was like.
2 weeks later I was transferred to an intensive psychiatric unit in London, Rosebank ward Tower Hamlets. I do not remember the transfer or arriving here but I believe they said my psychosis was their ‘bread and butter’ and they were able to successfully sedate me and calm me down and give me the correct amount of antipsychotic medication. My parents said the first time they visited me here, I was a bag of bones lying on a bean bag covered in bruises from where I had been restrained. They thought they would receive a call that night to say that I had passed away. But, I gradually started becoming myself again here, they fed me, medicated me, they supported me through my irrational thoughts, I began to think rationally again, they did activities with me, my friends visited me and slowly I came out of my shell and started to return to my normal self.
2 weeks later I was then transferred back to Weller wing where I continued to recover and slowly reintroduced myself back to the real world. I was able to see my gorgeous boys and I was allowed ‘leave’ to spend time at home then return back to the hospital. Gradually this was increased and I was able to return home and fully discharged on 17th March 2017.
I then took back care of my boys full time and I was then under the care of the early intervention team. Who came out to see me initially every 2-3days, to support me with medication and to support me in any other ways they could. Initially I was doing well.
Unfortunately I started to feel low in mood, medication was altered, my thyroxine was increased too fast and this in turn made me feel very anxious and I began to not sleep and things began to spiral down. The consultant felt that a week away from the boys in the hospital may give me the rest I needed. As a family we decided that the boys would be better cared for by their father, he then moved back into the property. We were forced to move my things out within the hour and I moved back to my parents. I was then admitted onto Onyx Ward in Luton, where I spent my 30th birthday. I spent one week here and then returned home to my parents under the care of the crisis team.
The crisis team visited me every 2-3 days and sometimes daily.
My mood then continued to plummet. I felt as though I had lost everything. My boys, my home and I felt I would never get better, I felt worthless and I felt I would never be able to return to work.
In June, I felt that I had let everyone down and that I would continue to let them down, I thought the best way would be to take my own life. I thought that by doing this I would save everyone from my failures. My parents went out on their motorbikes and I took this opportunity to take an overdose.
My parents returned home, I did not say anything. The crisis team then arrived. The lady that came spoke to me about my worries in regards to getting back to work. She was full of hope and I could see a glimpse of hope in her eyes. I then felt an overwhelming amount of regret for what I had done about an hour beforehand. I told them what I had done.
My parents took me to A&E. The look of shock and disappointment in my parents eyes will never leave me and is something I will never forget. I remember lying on a trolley in A&E, I just sighed and felt safe being back in hospital.
I then spent 5 days on Whitbread ward in Bedford hospital. Looking back on this time I feel as though my symptoms were very similar to post traumatic stress disorder. I felt ashamed of what I had become, I wouldn’t really talk to anyone and I just remember staring into space. Not wanting to do anything. Overthinking things and becoming very anxious and paranoid.
I was then transferred to Townsend Court in Houghton Regis, where I spent the next 6weeks. I continued to have suicidal thoughts for some time. I was severely depressed and continued to have little faith in myself. Medication was changed and at one point ECT was considered. Luckily, I did not need to have this. I began to feel institionalised, I had spent the majority of this year in hospital. I liked the routine of being in hospital. I often referred to it as ‘my little bubble’ I felt safe there and did not feel ready to face the world. I found comfort in eating and it was during this time I put quite a lot of weight on. My depression made me feel very isolated, but at the same time I would isolate myself by not talking to anyone and would not speak to my friends and family. The smallest of tasks I would find to be a huge effort such as doing my hair and makeup or just getting a shower.
In July 2017 I was then discharged home to my parents and was back under the care of the early intervention team. It was then that I started to improve. I joined a gym, I joined slimming world, I made plans and made sure I kept busy. I started to sleep better and gradually my medication was reduced.
In September 2017 I returned to work on a phased return. I am now back to work full time as a district nurse. I absolutely love my job. I feel my experiences through mental health services and as being on the other side as a patient has given me empathy towards patients and the ability to listen to their problems, relate to them and support them.
So now its March 2018, it’s just over a year now since I was initially admitted and my mental health journey began. I have decided that I would like to give something back to the mental health services that supported me. So I have decided to contact all the units that I have visited. To let you all know that I made it through! I’m alive! And I’m stronger than I have EVER been before!
I’m looking into becoming a mental health advocate through Pohwer. I’m also trying to raise awareness around mental health through social media, to try and stop the stigma that is attached. I have also booked a skydive in May (Mental health awareness month) to raise as much as I can for the charity MIND. I feel so passionately about mental health. I will be doing this skydive for all the mental health services, the NHS that supported me, for my two gorgeous boys Kian and Conor, for my friends and family for supporting me through the hardest time of my life, for all my patients and for people that are suffering with mental health problems, and finally for myself because life IS worth living!