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B - Interview 19

Age at interview: 19
Brief Outline: B is 19 and in college. When she was younger she experienced abuse and she also lost several close family members at a young age. B had a difficult journey to deal with the problems, she was hospitalised several times and she attempted suicide a few times. B says her life turned when she made a decision to want to accept the help and do something with her life. She's now looking forward to future and expecting a baby. (Zambia).
Background: See 'Brief outline'

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B is 19 and in college. B says her mental health problems started in her teens, around the age of 15 or 16, when things started going “pear shaped” in her family. B was abused and she had also experienced bereavement of several close family members from a young age. B says things were “going downhill”; she stopped going out, was feeling more and more depressed and started falling behind in school. She just felt like “giving up on everything”.
 
The school picked up on the change in B’s behaviour and referred her to Connexions and a school counsellor. Until then she hadn’t wanted to talk to anyone about her experiences but with the school counsellor she was finally able to open up about what had been going on. B moved out from home for a while but things were still very unsettled. B took an overdose a few times, was “in and out of hospital” and a couple of times B was sectioned and treated in a secure psychiatric unit.
 
B was diagnosed with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as borderline personality disorder and schizophrenia. She says she’s not sure about the schizophrenia diagnosis, but says she’s definitely had depression.
 
The turning point for B came when she ended up in hospital under sedation after she’d overdosed on several different medicines. The medical staff didn’t know if she’d wake up or not, or would wake up “as a cabbage” or paralysed. Surviving this was a wake up call for B and it made her “think twice” about her life and her future; “I wanted to do something with my life”. Having lost so many family members, B says made her appreciate her life' “I am still alive and I can still make a difference”.
 
The journey to deal with her problems and to process the bereavement has been “really really difficult” for B. She said it’s made her be more open minded about mental health problems and also more emotionally sensitive. She says it’s possible to get better but that “you have to want it yourself”. Also being more involved in her care has made a big difference. B is just about to complete her college course and she’s expecting a baby.
 

B has experienced bereavement from a young age. She lost two younger sisters at a young age and...

B has experienced bereavement from a young age. She lost two younger sisters at a young age and...

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I think they [mental health problems] probably started like between the ages of 15 and 16, sort of that area ‘cos that was when sort of things started to go pear shaped with my family and stuff and… Although I think it might have started earlier on because, from like and early childhood I had lost a lot of people when I was really young. Like I lost two younger sisters, two years in a row like when I was in ’96 and ’97, I can’t remember how old I was then but... And then after that I think three years later, or something like that my Grandma died as well, and then like after then it just seemed like people kept dying, but ‘cos I’ve got like a really huge family from my Dad’s side and my Mum’s side, and my Dad comes from a family of 11. Well they used to be 11 and my Mum comes from a family of 7, so it’s quite a huge family, so, like people have been, like people have died and stuff like that.
 
And also like because like the beginning of this year I’ve like lost three like relatives, I’ve like lost, my Uncle died in May, the beginning of May, and my Auntie died in July and my Grandmother on my Dad’s side died this August, then, it all makes you think “Why are they all dying sort of like, a month in between and stuff, and what’s going on?” And you sort of start to wonder about it, and then you also think, “Well, I’m still alive and I can still make a difference, and I’m sure they’ll have loved to see me do this,” and so that sort of makes you carry on and stuff.
 

B experienced abuse during her childhood. (Read by an actor).

B experienced abuse during her childhood. (Read by an actor).

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I was also worried about my GCSE’s and that, and I stopped going out with my friends, and you just sort of went downhill from there, and so that school got a bit worried and they told my Mum about it, and my Mum tried to talk to me but I didn’t really want to talk to anybody about it [abuse], and then I’d go into school but I wouldn’t do any work. I would just sit there and most of the time I would probably even, I’d just spend it at the front office just sitting there and not doing anything. I’d pop into anyone, so they referred me to Connexions and I didn’t really talk to them either, and then they referred me to the school counsellor, and finally I managed to tell her and then obviously they had to involve the right authorities, and like social services and the police and then like, I think, think the thing that was the most difficult to do was when my Mum turned round and said, “I don’t believe you and stuff.” And that sort of just, that just sort of pressed the button inside me, and I just became really self destructive and... I’d ran away from home and take overdoses, and I was like in and out of A&E.
 

B's mental health problems developed gradually over years as a result of bereavement and abuse ...

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B's mental health problems developed gradually over years as a result of bereavement and abuse ...

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I think they [mental health problems] probably started like between the ages of 15 and 16, sort of that area ‘cos that was when sort of things started to go pear shaped with my family and stuff and…although I think it might have started earlier on because, from like and early childhood I had lost a lot of people when I was really young. Like I lost two younger sisters, two years in a row like when I was in ’96 and ’97, I can’t remember how old I was then but. And then after that I think three years later, or something like that my Grandma died as well, and then like after then it just seemed like people kept dying, but ‘cos I’ve got like a really huge family from my Dad’s side and my Mum’s side, and my Dad comes from a family of 11. Well they used to be 11 and my Mum comes from a family of 7, so it’s quite a huge family, so, like people have been, like people have died and stuff like that. So I think it sort of came from that and...
 
Also because I’ve got a history of abuse in my family as well, so, I think that’s, that sort of brought the issues on later on when I was 15, 16 yeah.
 

B really liked her counsellor who gave her advice but would never tell her what to do. (Read by...

B really liked her counsellor who gave her advice but would never tell her what to do. (Read by...

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It was really strange because I didn’t want to tell any of my friends except for the friend who had lost her mum to suicide as well because she was seeing her as well at the same time. So apart from her no-one else knew I was seeing the school counsellor because obviously I was scared of people thinking, “Oh she’s a nutter.” and stuff like that. And ‘cos you know how it is in upper school and stuff when people are always like that, and, so…
 
But the woman [counsellor] was really lovely. The woman I saw, she was really lovely, and she was caring, and I would just talk about whatever I wanted to talk about and she would give me a, like a advice on what I’d, what I’d do and stuff, but she’d sort of like didn’t tell me what to do which I really loved, because like with social services they were like, “You do this.” And like with the Mental Health Team they would, ‘cos I was at that age where they could tell me what to do, they told me what to do, which I didn’t really like and…
 
Like if I wanted to do something I had to go through my social worker, or I had to go through my Mum and they’d be sort of, I had to go through a lot of people and I sort of hated the fact of being told what to do, but I mean with the counsellor I would just sit there, and I would rant and row all I liked and say what I wanted to do, and she would say, “Oh you could do this, but you don’t have to if you don’t want to do it.” And sort of I sort of liked that and so; it’s just about really finding the right kind of help you want. ‘Cos everybody’s different, other people might like being told what to do, while other people don’t like being told what to do and stuff, so. It’s just different.
 

B had dance, drama and talking therapy while she was on ward and there was 'The Angry Room' for...

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B had dance, drama and talking therapy while she was on ward and there was 'The Angry Room' for...

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I had like loads of therapy like, I had drama therapy, I had just talking therapy, and then I had, I also had like dance therapy where you just have a dancer and she will come and she would say, if you feel like screaming just scream, and if you feel like punching something they would have like little soft punch bags or a pillow you could punch. And then we had a room like, we would, what they called the Angry Room, and you would just take like an apple or something and you would just smash it onto the wall and that just helps you get rid of your anger. And there were things like, they also had a gym where you could just go, but it was also regulated because there were people there that had problems like eating problems and stuff so they would be exercising excessively and stuff so it had to be monitored, you had to sort of have somebody there with you when you did all the things and stuff.
 

B describes being sectioned as a “horrible” experience. (Read by an actor).

B describes being sectioned as a “horrible” experience. (Read by an actor).

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Yeah. what about being in hospital then? What was it like being sectioned?
 
It was horrible, it was really, really horrible, I hated it. I’ve never actually, I’ve never been a person to like hospitals anyway, and just being closed up and because it was a secure unit so you had to go through pins and checks and stuff because obviously people would run away and stuff and so...
 
It was I remember, I can vaguely remember my first day, I remember from the police station in [town name] actually, they sedated me I think, ‘cos I remember them putting me into the ambulance, like the police and the nurses and them putting me into the ambulance, and then I don’t remember anything, like I just blacked out sort of so I assume they did sedate me, or I’ve fallen asleep or something. And I remember waking up and like I was in the ambulance, and I had a bit of a fit and I was just like ergh, and the nurse, the nurse I was with, the nurse who was escorting me, she was really nice and she was like, “Well do you want to hold my hand?” and stuff, and I was just ranting and raving and swearing at them, and I was just like, “Leave me alone.”
 
And we got to the hospital, and I remember going through all these doors, there must’ve been at least six doors we must have gone through. We went through reception and then we went through other doors and when we got to this to the ward bit it was like a massive like dining area sort of, and there was little doors like into offices and rooms and stuff, and there was a nurse was meant to be my key worker and she was she was really lovely, but then even though I didn’t like the nurse who was escorting me, I was like, “No I want to stand with her, I don’t want to, I don’t want you ‘cos I don’t know you, at least I’ve been with her for a couple of hours, so I don’t know you”.
 
And because obviously she had to go and I had to stay there, but ‘cos I didn’t know I had to stay there, I thought, for some reason I just thought I was there and they were gonna take me back or something, I don’t know. But then, and then when she had to go, they put me in a room, it was a very nice place, it was, actually it was new at that time, there was only like three or four patients there, and ‘cos we got there about 10 at night, so everybody had, were in their rooms or they were watching telly or something, and I didn’t get to meet anyone that night apart from my nurse and I was given like medication to help me sleep.
 

Over 20 hours in a critical unit following a suicide attempt, made B “think twice” and gave her...

Over 20 hours in a critical unit following a suicide attempt, made B “think twice” and gave her...

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So I took them and I was, I had to be like put to sleep and stuff because the, the combination of the medications like affected my brain and it was, when they put me to sleep like it was either I woke up as a cabbage or not, so it was like, it’d got really, really bad to that point and I was in you know a critical unit for like 20, 48 hours. So, and then after when I came round and staff and they told me and I think that must’ve like woken me up and think do I really want to do this, ‘cos I’m, I would have probably ended up in a wheelchair paralysed or you know like, you know a vegetable or something like that, and that’s sort of, I think that’s sort of made me think twice about what I want out of my life and stuff.
 
And so I was like well I need to like, you know there’s people up there who want to have a life and here I am, I’m 18 years old and I want to do something with my life.
 

When B was on the psychiatric ward and couldn't sleep, a nurse made her a cup of tea and chatted...

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When B was on the psychiatric ward and couldn't sleep, a nurse made her a cup of tea and chatted...

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And I don’t really remember the first few days, but I remember bits and pieces like, I remember one night I was there like sleeping and I was crying, and one of the nurses came up and she made me a cup of tea and it was like right in the middle of the night and we chatted till the morning, and I went to sleep.
 

B says the best way doctors can help is to give her information about all the options available...

B says the best way doctors can help is to give her information about all the options available...

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I think the best form of help is telling you there’s help there, them telling me I can go to them, rather than them telling me, “Oh we want you to do this now,” or “We want you to take this medication. You’re going to be in hospital at this time.” Because now like I’ve got, before the care plan which has been made up for me, but now they include me in making like a care plan like they’ll say, “What do you want to do if you feel depressed? Do you want us to take you to the hospital? Do you want to talk to your, is there a specific person you want to talk to, not just a professional? Do you want to talk to a stranger? Do you want to talk to someone you know?” And sort of just including the person in the care that they’re receiving, is the best thing, rather than just telling them.
 

B lost her Nan 10 years ago but it 'feels like yesterday' to her.

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B lost her Nan 10 years ago but it 'feels like yesterday' to her.

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I think if my Nan was here, if my sisters were here and you know,” all that just sort of comes out. And to think maybe if they were here things would have turned out differently. But also just the feeling of loss as well, and thinking oh my Nan would’ve seen me pass my GCSE’s and stuff like that. So it’s just sort of those little things that sort of make you think.
 
It [getting through bereavement] is very, very difficult, it’s very, very difficult. And everybody sort of, everyone like, it’s not like, there’s no like time limit like, or there’s a certain time where you have to get over bereavement, because I don’t think you actually ever do get through, you ever heal from that like from the loss of a loved one, I don’t think you ever heal. Because there are times when I’ll sit and think, “Oh why my Nan,” and I feel like crying, and sometimes I will cry. And but it’s been nearly 10 years since my Nan died but I still feel like it was just yesterday, so like it’s not easy but it’s just like I said before, it’s just up to you and to make that decision of wanting to make a difference in your life, and to move on. It doesn’t mean when you move on you forget other people in your life, because you’ll always carry them with you, so and you’ll always carry the memories you have with them, so yeah. But it’s not easy, I must say it’s not easy to get to that point.
 

B says it’s important to accept who you are and to know when you need help. (Read by an actor).

B says it’s important to accept who you are and to know when you need help. (Read by an actor).

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But like once you get, you learn, you learn that people are just there to help you, then you will, you learn to know yourself as well, you learn to know your new self because like going through mental health illness it does change the person you were before into the person you become later on in life so.
 
It’s about learning to accept who you are at that point in time and knowing when you need help and when you need to ask for help. And it doesn’t necessarily have to mean that you have to go to the place or you have to go to the doctor, you can just talk to your friends ‘cos sometimes just, I even just sitting with my friends sometimes I’ll just be really distressed and I’ll just tell my friend, “Do you mind coming over?” And we can just sit quietly and just knowing that my friends are there, that’s just sometimes that’s enough so. It doesn’t necessarily have to mean injections or anything like that or being sectioned.
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