Hey Guys, I said I would do a post on my mental health journey For the new readers who are unaware of my history I hope this brings insight.
My first experience with Mental Health
My first experience with Mental Health was triggered by bullying at eleven years old. As a child I was highly anxious, I never stopped worrying and my lens on life had a constant blue hue of sadness. A message was written on my social media by one of the girls in my class. It said that I should kill myself. I already suffered from very low self-esteem, I believed I owed it to her and the world to remove myself from it. It’s breaks my heart knowing that younger Katie believed she was doing the world a favour by committing suicide. My attempt was interrupted and I was brought to see a counsellor weekly for professional help. Over the next 3 years, I struggled with disordered eating, anxiety, and severe depression.
Admission to psychiatric care.
In 2011 I experienced some very difficult times and I came to the conclusion that I couldn’t go on anymore. I made a significant attempt to end my life and required emergency medical intervention. I spent the next few days hooked up to monitors in the accident and emergency department. My family gathered around me, all frankly in shock that I had made such a serious attempt.
My first Admission
This was the first time my family became aware I was self-harming. It was traumatic for all involved. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I had survived and I had no intention of living. Telling the psychiatrist that I did it on impulse. I didn’t know what I was doing, I wouldn’t do it again, etc. I said whatever I thought would get me discharged
From there I was admitted to a child and adolescent psychiatric inpatient unit. I wasn’t even aware places like that existed. They did, and it really wasn’t that bad. No straight jackets and no white uniforms. A lot of young people went into the ward and got discharged in a much healthier and happier place. That was nice to see. I don’t really know what happened to me. I kind of just got worse as the days went on. No matter what anyone said, it didn’t change me or my opinion. I didn’t like life, I didn’t like the people in life and I was adamant to leave it. I had a large collection of traumatic bullying incidents in my past and I relived them over and over again in the present.
St. Andrews Healthcare
They tried Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Dialectical Behavioural Therapy, Group Therapy, and Psychotherapy. Any therapy you can think of they tried. They tried antidepressants, antipsychotics, and mood stabilizers. After many failed attempts of helping me recover they realised they were out of options. In November 2013 at 16 years of age, I was transferred from the CAMHS inpatient unit in Galway to a Medium Secure psychiatric facility in the UK. It was the most secure psychiatric facility for under 18s in the U.K.
That place was something else entirely and I don’t think I will ever be able to erase the wounds from that time. The Facility came under serious fire in recent years after an undercover documentary was broadcast on National TV highlighting the inadequate care among other things.
It was bad enough to warrant several people suing for thousands of euro in compensation. The 22 months spent there will always haunt me. I never thought I would leave believing I would die on the wards of that place. After I returned home I fought publicly to highlight the trauma of being sent there. The word I would use to describe it is horrific. If I told you some of the things that happened, you wouldn’t believe me. I won my fight to return to Ireland on the 8th of July 2015.
I had included some of the articles written at the time of my return to Ireland along with some others. The first five articles were about my own case.
As you can see from the headlines of the articles it’s all pretty shocking. I fought to put an end to Irish adolescents being sent over. Unfortunately I didn’t succeed in my quest. I won my freedom and return to Ireland on the conditions that I lived in Residential Care. Between 18 and 21 years old I lived in Residential Care and I can’t complain about it. I lived in a house, I had my own bedroom, and I attended college. Saw my family, Saw my friends. In ways, I was like everyone else my age.
Returning to Ireland
I went on to create my first website. Advocated for Youth Mental Health. Attended Mental Health Demonstrations, Reached out to politicians. I did everything in my power to advocate for a better mental health system. It was a fantastic psychiatrist that changed my life. I believed the girl without mental health issues was gone forever. Crying to my mother that my friends wouldn’t like the person I had become. I no longer laughed, I didn’t care for music, books, fashion. There wasn’t joy in anything anymore. I may as well have been a physical body with no personality or soul.
I couldn’t believe it. After two months of starting the medication the new psychiatrist had prescribed that those parts of me were back. Katie was back. I had never truly lost myself. It was just hiding behind depression below the surface. I left St. Andrews with some severe physical health issues. My physical health hospitalised me many times in 2015, 2016 and 2017. At times I felt like I was at death’s door. In 2017 I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.
The years between July 2015 and July 2018 were a complete roller-coaster. At 21 I left the care system. The crap thing about mental illness is that it doesn’t exactly go away. I had months of stability and growth and months of relapse and self-harm. My mental health took a turn for the worst after my discharge. In January 2019 I admitted myself to a psychiatric ward with urges to jump in front of a train. I stayed in the hospital for 3 weeks. On the 9th of March 2019 I was hit by a train in County Offaly. I believed this was a sure thing. There was no way you could get hit by a train and survive.
Surviving the impact of the train.
I was airlifted to hospital and placed on life support. My injuries were catastrophic. My left foot had been severed off. A bone in my spine had shattered along with many other breaks. I had broken all my ribs, my lungs collapsed and I needed a chest drain. My family gathered around me in Intensive Care. They didn’t know if I would survive and I developed sepsis.
Waking up from life support
Things looked bleak. I opened my eyes after 5 weeks. Unable to comprehend that I was alive. It was undeniable how bad things were. Attached to every machine possible. Unable to speak. I couldn’t even move. All I could do was watch and listen as my family told me they loved me. Recovery was hard. Scratch that. Recovery was hell. I had become an amputee. I had survived with life-changing injuries. Nothing would ever be the same again. Unable to comprehend how I was alive and I wasn’t happy about it. Stuck in Intensive Care with a nurse 24/7 breathing with the help of a ventilator. It was time to accept this new reality..
Unable to move any part of my body for the first few weeks awake. I wanted to die and If I could have tried, I probably would have tried. I had to learn everything all over again. How to breathe. Swallow. Drink, eat. How to move my fingers. Learn ways to get out of bed. Learn to stand with one leg less. Walking with a prosthetic leg. The doctors said if I ever recovered I was looking at 12- 18 months in hospital. I got discharged after 4 months. I went back modelling with my new prosthetic leg . That’s one thing I had to stand for. I am determined and I was stubborn enough to work my ass off to not be confined to a wheelchair at 22 years of age.
Spotify plays on the TV as I write. In a long term relationship with the most amazing man. We are proud owners of two fur babies. It’s been four years without a psychiatric admission. I am happy. In 2023 I learned to drive an automatic car and it has brought such independence to my life. I’ hope to study a Bachelor of Arts in Creative writing in the future. I live every day to the best of my ability. For someone that spent 8 years in institutions, it is remarkable that I was able to adapt to life outside institutions and I have. Living like every other young person my age.
I complain about all my money going on rent, Spend time with my friends. I am alive. Now I go to therapy. November 2019 I began weekly therapy sessions. That was one thing that was essential. I wasn’t going to make it if I continued to hide from the hurt buried inside me. I do therapy every week, and for me, it is a combination of that and my medication that keeps me well and I am incredibly grateful to have found something that works.
Why I write
I write my story not for dramatic effect. I am living proof that anybody can overcome mental illness If I can come back stronger, after going head-to-head with a train, you can too. What I am trying to say is. No matter how bleak things seem. There is always Hope… There is always the potential for change, the potential for a brighter future. I am going to leave you with one of my favourite quotes.
Love Katie xx
You can get in touch with me here. https://keepingupwithkatie.com/contact/
Ps. If you could take a look at my petition and sign your name if you support it and share it on your social media pages I would appreciate it greatly. We have the power to bring about positive changes, Let’s do it. Thanks Guys