Hi there, my name is Aleutia and this is my story.
I suffer from mental health issues and as you can see from the picture, we’re starting this story (and my hopeful recovery) at pretty much rock bottom. On Sunday 19th March 2017 I took a huge overdose brought about by my ongoing battles with my mental health and never having received the right treatment for my condition. This is a common story for everyone suffering with mental health issues in the UK. I want to share my story of how I got here, what happens next and all my experiences dealing with my issues as it’s so hard to get help, especially the right kind of help. If my story can help just one person to have a bit of an insight into the battles that they may face, or just be a reminder that they are not the only person feeling the way they do and that helps them get through the next 5 minutes then my story is doing what I want it to do.
So just how did I get into such a state and into a hospital bed with my dear friend Nessie in the first place ………?
…………. Well, let’s start with a little about me. I’m a 39 year old transsexual woman who has been totally disowned by my mum, dad and sister. I’ve had zero contact with all 4 of my children since coming out as transsexual back in 2011. I’d struggled with Mental Health issues pretty much all my life but was diagnosed as struggling with Bi-Polar Issues back in 2008. For the past 2 years my partner and I have both been into the doctors on numerous occasions to ask for a reassessment of my mental health conditions or for changes to be made to my medications as they did not appear to be working and I had become increasingly anxious, socially withdrawn, angry, frustrated, depressed, hopeless, lethargic, irritable and emotionally unstable.
Yet despite the long list of symptoms and numerous requests for assistance I was unable to access the help I needed as every time my GP requested a psychiatric assessment, the psychiatrist wrote back (eventually) saying “NO”.
During this same time, the wonderful ATOS invited me to a medical assessment for my PIP payments I’d been receiving for the past 2 years due to my partner having to stay home and care for me as my mental health was becoming so low that I would hardly leave the flat without her, even to go to doctor’s or hospital appointments. My life had gotten worse since the initial award of PIP payments to assist me with all the things I needed to help combat my health issues. I was not expecting the decision they reached back in September 2016 when the DWP assessor decided I was only suffering from mild dyslexia and that I could do everything else on my own (this despite having spent 2 1/2 hours in the appointment with their medical practitioner going over the many health issues I suffer from as well as the mental health issues. These range from Asthma to my Gender Dysphoria, Sleep Apnoea and Type 2 Diabetes to name but a few!
Overnight, thanks to this decision our family (my partner has 2 boys) lost a considerable amount of money each month that was helping me to just about keep my head above water mentally. We put in an appeal which was immediately rejected the very same day the DWP received it and we were forced to go through the stressful process of preparing for a tribunal. My partner Rachel, had to do all the prep work, forms, obtaining the evidence of ATOS’s severe negligence in my case as I was at this point unable to focus on any of it without going into panic attacks.
As we waited for our appeal date, our financial situation became increasingly dire. Rachel could not work as she knew to leave me alone would only make my health worse and we simply struggled more and more with each passing week. I say we, Rachel at this time simply stopped telling me our financial situation in order to shield me from additional worries, but without her help I don’t know how I would have gotten through to the tribunal date. The days and months passed by, September was a distant memory as Christmas and then the New Year came, and still no sign of a date to try to get the support we needed and were entitled to.
Eventually a date arrived for the 22nd February 2017 and with Rachel by my side we overturned the DWP’s decision to stop our PIP. In fact I was entitled to more than I was originally getting but here’s the thing they don’t tell you so pay attention as this can be really important…..
Once you win your PIP tribunal you will receive a letter from the tribunal telling you that they will write to the DWP to inform them that their decision has been overturned and they are to backdate all your PIP and award it until a date specified by the tribunal. However, what isn’t said is that the DWP will do nothing for at least one calendar month as they can appeal the decision themselves.
Nobody will tell you this, not even the DWP who will not even acknowledge that they have received a letter from the tribunal. You are left hanging in limbo and in deathly silence. You are not going to be paid the money you were promised any time soon! If you phone up PIP after the appeal deadline is gone (the calendar month the DWP have to put an appeal in themselves) you will still be told that they don’t know what is happening and that they have no information as to whether the DWP are appealing or not. To put it bluntly, you are going to get shafted without even knowing it. It took us 2 weeks from the tribunal win to even know the DWP could still appeal, but even knowing that did not prepare us for the run around we have been given since the deadline had passed. It’s disgraceful how the DWP can treat sick people. I had support but lots wont and we are still waiting for our money right now.
As you can imagine, dealing with all my other issues and being on a high after thinking that I was going to get the benefit money that I was entitled to, to find out that nothing was happening and I could still get nothing was just too much to take. This, coupled with other things including the anniversary of my grandfather’s suicide was just too upsetting and one evening I went into meltdown.
Due to my meltdown I wasn’t safe to be around Rachel or her boys so she had to ask me to leave for a bit. This was just too much on top of everything I was trying to cope with & I’d had enough of my life & its constant misery/pain.
I ended up in a remote carpark in the west of Cornwall with the intent of taking as many pills as I possibly could so that I wouldn’t be in anymore pain. I just wanted to drift off to sleep & never wake up. I’ve had 3 previous over doses but this one was different the amount of pills I took was quite frankly scary, I swallowed nearly a months supply of all my medications…
30 x Tramadol, 30x paracetamol, 20x Ibruprofen, 20x citalopram (60mg), 30x metformin, 60x estradiol, 30x progesterone, 30x Dutasteride, 20x statins, 30x orlisat, 30x tegretol.
So as you can see I had no intention of waking up yet I ended up being sick & 12 hours later the Police found me in a very messed up state. I was taken to hospital (of which I have no recollection – no surprise there genius) & spent a few hours in A&E so I am led to believe. So here is where my story starts…
Monday 20th March – Well the black dog has finally caught up with me & I’m in hospital again. I’m on a ward called MAU 1 (Medical Assessment Unit). I am very upset that I’m still here as in my eye’s I have no life, nowhere to live or go. My life is over, so why am I alive?
I spent one hour on a drip before being put on a different drip for 4 hours. I don’t remember too much of this stage, I’m just too upset. After a few hours a nurse called Amy came to see me to ask if I was aware of what had happened and how much I took? I know exactly how much I had taken but I don’t care. As far as I’m concerned my life is over at this point, I just want to get off this drip so I can go and finish the job I started.
I have no recollection of saying the last sentence (Rachel only told me this as I am trying to write this up on here).
Rachel turned up at the hospital at about this point and had spoken to the nurse, Amy before coming to see me. I wasn’t aware that I wouldn’t be allowed to leave at this point but she told me that I was being referred to the psych team and that they would see me as soon as the drips had done their jobs. Amy was brilliant, she really cared what happened to me and was determined that I wasn’t leaving hospital again with no help ( I took the last overdose 3 years previously and was discharged with no help at all). She told Rachel that as long as I told the psych team what I had told her then they could not release her without help.
If you need Psychiatric help you are going to have to fight for it.
Do whatever it takes to get them to listen. If you keep saying you WILL harm yourself if they let you go without help then they can’t ignore you and have to ensure you are safe.
This is not going to be easy but if you want help, you have to be honest because this may be your one and only chance to get the psychiatric help you need.
I am angry that the system forces you to fall over the edge before they can offer to help you. This has been months in the making and I could see it coming but nobody medical would listen because they are all underfunded, overstretched and don’t have the resources they need. I do wonder if it wasn’t for Amy whether I would actually be getting the proper psychiatric help I needed as last time they took one look at me, asked me what I wanted from them before saying they wouldn’t help and told me I could go. Maybe it was the amount of pills I took this time that got them to wake up but I prefer to thank Amy as she really did seem to care and pushed so hard for me to get the help I needed.
After my 4 hour drip I was given an hour drip free before a final 16 hour drip to hopefully flush the rubbish I’d taken out of my liver and kidneys. I still wouldn’t know if I had any lasting damage until after this drip finished and bloods were taken but at least physically at this point I was on the mend and I was going to get a psych appointment the next day.
I’m a huge music fan and have been lucky to speak to several of my musical heroes at gigs (I’ve even worked for one of my favourite bands). One of my favourite artists is Ginger Wildheart who himself has suffered from mental health issues and been very open and honest about his experiences. I’m part of a community of fans of Ginger’s on Facebook, and due to a missing person post that Rachel put on several groups, once the message had gone out that I was found, I was inundated with well wishes from people I’d either met once at a gig, chatted to online or never met.
In times like these, when the whole world appears to be going to shit, and nobody cares about anybody or anything else, my faith in humanity has somehow been restored by these wonderful people and their heartfelt messages.
Out of these messages the one that hit me most today was one from Jane, Ginger’s manager and wife who we had met back in January. Jane told me to keep fighting and that things will get better, she also messaged Rachel today too, telling her that she needs to look after herself and the boys as well and that she is there for us both.
Looking back at it now, it was a great comfort that so many strangers took time to wish me well. Fans, friends, band members, crew members all taking the time to post a message was touching indeed. At the time the messages were coming in it was all abit of a blur. I was in agony emotionally but Jane’s message especially hit home and gave me the strength to get through the next few hours. Sometimes that’s all we can ask for.
Today is rock bottom and although you have a long road ahead of you, full of ups and downs this is the worst it will get.
Due to the overwhelming support I received from fellow Ginger fans I decided to take a leaf out of Ginger’s book and to quote a song title off his new album, “Ghost in the Tanglewood” I thought I should do the right thing and share my experiences in the hope that they will help someone cope themselves or give someone an insight who may know someone else who is suffering with similar issues. This is my way of “Paying It Forward”.
Thanks for reading, this is only the beginning of a very long road ahead of me where I know things are going to get emotionally worse for me before they start to get better.