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Mandy - Interview 11

Age at interview: 20
Brief Outline: Mandy says she's always felt different to others and like she didn't quite fit in. Mandy's been self-harming since a young age, and later on experienced depression and been hearing voices. She stayed in a psychiatric unit for a while where she made two very close friends. For Mandy, time, getting involved in her care and going forwards in small steps helped the most. (White British).
Background: See 'Brief outline'

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Mandy says that from a very young age she felt different to other kids and like she didn’t fit in. Ever since she was little, she says she was “accident prone”; throwing herself down the stairs or banging her head and passing the incidents off as accidents. This was the beginning of self-harm. Mandy first sought help at the age of 14 - she’d been badly bullied through primary school and was feeling very low. Mandy says depression runs in the family and for her, bullying was the “tipping factor”. At first, she stayed with CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) for a couple of years, during which she also took her first overdose, but was discharged for “attention seeking”.
 
By the age of 16, Mandy had started hearing voices and having visual disturbances, and was self-harming and feeling more suicidal. She was put on heavy medication and says she was pretty much “out of it” until she was transferred to a new hospital and started dialectical behavioural therapy and was weaned off most of her medication.
 
When in the local psychiatric unit, Mandy met Frankie (see Interview 13) and Sian (see Interview 12). The girls developed a very close bond during the months they stayed in the same unit and have stayed friends ever since. They stay in touch regularly and refer to each other as “sisters”. They all say that getting to know each other was the biggest help they got, both in and out of hospital. During their stay in the hospital, the girls got to know each other’s moods, knew when to support each other and when to leave each other have the space to have their own time. They say they “kept each other sane in the most insane ways”.
 

Mandy says it’s a cliché but time will help – it helped her and her friends. She also says getting properly involved in one’s care is crucial – to help build confidence and a sense of achievement. Setting realistic targets and taking small steps at a time were also important for her. Mandy says she still has her good days and bad days but she feels OK for most of the time and has learnt to accept the times when she doesn’t.

 

For more from Mandy see her Group Interview 11-13.

 

Mandy says medication does help but it requires finding the right medicine, the right dose and...

Mandy says medication does help but it requires finding the right medicine, the right dose and...

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It just depends on who you get, sort of professional-wise as to what you’re on, what the regime is really. I mean there’s, I’ve got a doctor now who I had a really bad sort of few months the last year and he put me onto them grudgingly ‘cos I was like, I want to see if it helps. And I mean I ended up taking myself off it, which is never the best plan. But you know there’s people that’d automatically just go, “Oh well, you know, you’re depressed, you’re this that and the other, you’ve got it in your history, you know, you’ve got no chance, it’s not that.” And then people like him that go well, “I don’t know if it is that, but you know you can try it and see, ‘cos we’ll put you on a low dose and see how you go.”, type thing. And you know it all depends on who you get, and their approach to medication as to how you respond to it. But I mean medication does help, it just depends on what you’re on. You’ve got to find the right dose and you’ve got to find the right meds. And it might...
 

The side effects Mandy experienced included visual disturbances, hearing voices, weight gain and...

The side effects Mandy experienced included visual disturbances, hearing voices, weight gain and...

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There was so many that could be…, you get visual, you can get visual disturbances and hearing voices from depression medication. Weight gain, you can get increased appetite or decreased appetite, you can sleep so much. They put me on a full dose of one of them, at one point they had to halve it because I couldn’t stay awake, I physically couldn’t do anything. I mean my Dad would take, took me for a walk once, and I only got sort of five minutes each way and we were back again, sat on the couch and slept for two hours, in which time my Mum rang my like nurse guy, and was like, “Look not being funny, but for the past three days since she started taking them, she can’t stay awake. You’re sedating her and she’s missing her whole life type thing.” ‘Cos I just, I wasn’t awake, I was awake for about three hours a day.
 

Mandy was bullied because she didn't 'fit in' and she developed earlier than most other girls.

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Mandy was bullied because she didn't 'fit in' and she developed earlier than most other girls.

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It started in primary school, I’m not the sort of person that makes friends easily, or if I make them I find it very hard to keep them, because I’m not you know one of the sort of stereotypical popular girls, I don’t do the sort of going out and stuff, I’d rather stay in and you know watch DVDs and whatever rather than go, “Oh, you know make up, aah, lets go out and shop.” It’s not really my sort of thing, funny. And wasn’t at that time so I didn’t quite fit in, I never quite fitted in primary school.
 
So, they picked up on that and anything they could sort of taunt me about they would and I developed a lot earlier than the rest of the girls and that was sort of one of the main sticking points was you know, “Ooh look at her,” you know, “She’s got this, she’s got that,” you know. Natural bodily parts developing but not according to primary school, and it just, it ended up any sort of moment, it was verbal and physical bullying so,
 

Mandy says coping with depression is about getting through each day by setting small goals and ...

Mandy says coping with depression is about getting through each day by setting small goals and ...

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Depression we found in general just through daily life was getting through the day. Because you couldn’t take anymore than that. You can get through the hour and set yourself small goals of well if I don’t manage the rest I don’t manage it, but I’m gonna get through this hour, and you know do this. And just do small goals because people go, “Oh well I’ve got this to do this week, and this, and this, and I have to get that done and…” You put too much pressure on yourself and you’re setting yourself up to fail. You know you can’t motivate yourself when you’ve got this big list of stuff going, “You have to do this, and you have to get this done,” and you’ve just got to break it down. That’s something I still do to cope is break it down, like work and stuff at Uni, because otherwise I would just get so overwhelmed.
 
I mean I looked at my assessment list the other day and went, “Oh, that’s a stupid amount of work to get done.” But then if I take it essay by essay, deadline by deadline, I’ll get it done, and it’ll, you know, it’ll work. And that’s something that I’ve really found works for me, ‘cos people are like, well just take it an hour at a time, and it really used to bug me, ‘cos I’d just want to fix it there and I’d be going, “No I need to do this, I need to do all of this, and it’s done.” And I never used to accept it. One thing that I’ve found is it really, really does work is just take it as much as you can little by little, to get through because you’ll find it all mounts up.
 
Might only be small things, but if you set yourself a small goal within each day you can build it up, and achieve something and feel you’ve achieved something, rather than belittling it because you can’t do something ‘cos you’ve overwhelmed yourself.
 

Mandy was “accident-prone” from around the age of 8.

Mandy was “accident-prone” from around the age of 8.

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I’ve always sort of as I said, sort of through half way through primary school I found it hard to make friends. I was okay till probably about year 4, so I should probably be I dunno, age 8, which was when a lot of stuff at home kicked off, which was when I, you know, started to feel different and everything started kicking in. So really you know I was, I was self harming from then, sort of the trivial things that people put it, but you know sort of the, I was very in inverted commas accident prone. That I was just you know, I was doing stuff to hurt myself rather than anything else, but it wasn’t picked up on till I was sort of 14 when I started cutting, so. So you know from age 8 onwards I was different as I would term it. You know?
 
What does accident prone mean?
 
I suffered a lot of injuries that I passed off as accidents mostly. You know sort of, you’d sort of throw yourself down the stairs with sort of at, I fell. Or you know you’d bang your hand against the wall and go, “Oh no, I just caught it.” You know, you just do stuff or you’d not stop yourself from doing stuff that you could see might happen, that you could easily prevent but you know it was all termed as accidents when I did them so.
 
 

“Set yourself small goals and you’ll be amazed at how much you can achieve.”

“Set yourself small goals and you’ll be amazed at how much you can achieve.”

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Just take it a step at a time. Never ever set your sights too high. Want to achieve, do what you can, but don’t overwhelm yourself because it won’t help, it’ll set you back, just do small bits, as much as you know you can cope with, hour by hour, minute by minute if you have to. We’ve all been there; it’s been getting through the next ten minutes. You know, just set yourself small goals and try and stick to them, if you can’t, you can’t. Try again the next day. Just build it up bit by bit and you’ll be amazed at how much you can achieve.
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