Sandra’s Story

I was 11 when my dad died and it was just all too much for me. I had no idea he was so sick and to this day I will never really forgive my mam for not telling me. A month before he died we had a big argument because I hadn’t cleaned my room and for years after his death I couldn’t get this out of my head.


I suppose I might have always been prone to getting down but after his death it became really bad. I stopped going to school, didn’t really want to get out of bed and spent any time I was up watching the T.V. My mam couldn’t cope with me and who could blame her, she had just lost her husband and had my three brothers to think about. I remember feeling at the time that she might die too because she always seemed so stressed and tired.


About six months after his death I spent my first period in hospital. It was a children’s hospital and beside me in the bed was a two year old with some sort of disease. I didn’t care. I didn’t have the energy to lift my head off the pillow. I just kept crying. I think I spent about three weeks in this ward before being allowed to return home. This is when I started my journey of going to various therapists and going back into hospital for short periods. It all culminated in me going into a specialised in-patient mental health treatment centre for a two month stay. When I first went into the centre I felt worse than I had ever felt before, I had hit rock bottom. I was brought in because I had slit my wrists, fairly badly. It was here that I first heard about what they call the Recovery model. I met a great nurse who seemed to just get what was happening to me anf together we started to work out a plan.


I am now 22 and I still experience really down times but I cope with them better. I am just completing my accountancy exams and have a job already lined up. I am beginning to work things out with my mama although at times she still makes me really angry. I have great admiration for how she has coped with losing her husband at such a young age. I have come to terms with the fact that I will probably always suffer from depression but I feel more confident that I can cope with this better now. I also now feel that I am not a failure or ashamed just I have an illness.


I know it sounds mad but I consider myself emotionally healthy even though I experience mental health difficulties. I think, considering what I have been through I have done pretty well. I have always felt loved by my parents and particularly my mam. I understand how much she has had to sacrifice to ensure I have received the support and treatment I need. The fact that she was able to put aside her own grief to help me when I was so bad is something I will never forget even though she has never, ever said a word about this to me.


I know my father loved me too. For many years I used to think only about the rows and arguements we had and how he probably love the boys more than me. Now I realise that these thoughts are part of my illness and only bring me to a dark place. I also know I drive my brothers mad but they love me too and I love them. My older brothers still baby me but my younger brother calls me the “Drama Queen”. When we are fighting he says “I suppose you are going to pull one of your episodes now” I think he probably has one of the healthiest attitudes to my difficulties because he sees them as just normal.


I intend to have children of my own some day. When I want to annoy my mam I tell her I am thinking of getting pregnant and she goes into her moralising mode. Firstly I want to set up my career. Throughout all of my depressions one of the things that kept me going was a belief that I am intelligent, as intelligent as the boys. I am good at doing exams even though I am a crammer. When I have my own kids though I am determined to ensure they are told the truth about everything and that they know they are loved just like I know.