A young woman who experienced a childhood trauma on Christmas Eve which triggered a decade long battle with mental illness has said a Northampton charity hospital has ‘saved her life’.
Sedona Jamieson, who has been a patient at St Andrew’s Healthcare for 14 months, is now on the road to recovery after being diagnosed with anorexia nervosa and borderline personality disorder.
She has chosen to waive her right to patient confidentiality, as she wants to help break the stigma that is normally associated with complex mental health issues.
The 20-year-old said: “On Christmas Eve 2010 our family home was broken into and this became the root cause of my anxiety. I can remember hiding in the back of the car sobbing as we waited for the police.
“Ever since then, I’ve had recurrent nightmares of strange men coming into our house and I think the fact our burglar was never caught, set about an entirely new level of paranoia in my mind. I couldn’t go into a room alone, and I was terrified of what was in the dark.”
Since the robbery, Sedona was exposed to further traumatic experiences which also impacted her mental health. She was bullied badly, forcing her to change schools several times and a physical assault soon after eventually led to her being sectioned.
Sedona said: “I was 15 when I was sectioned and since then, I’ve been in many different hospitals and experienced a whole variety of care pathways and treatments. In some places, I’ve been treated appallingly and it’s probably done me more harm than good.”
By the time she was admitted to St Andrew’s Sedona was very unwell.
She said: “I was in a bad way, and in a very, very dark place. As far as I was concerned I had no future and I didn’t want to live. When I got to St Andrew’s I had to have staff with me at all times to ensure I did not hurt myself. When people hear that, they think it sounds awful as they do not understand complex mental health issues and psychiatric hospitals.
“There are many misconceptions about hospitals like St Andrew’s and yet, I’ve lived through this. It’s not a prison and those who are observed by staff are done so to keep the patients – and everyone around them – safe.
“Since coming here, I’ve started to trust the staff and my clinician Dr Baggott is amazing. The therapy I receive is really helpful and now that I’m on the road to recovery. I go swimming and go to the gym on a weekly basis. I can go out on walks when I want to and for the first time ever, I have started looking to the future.”
However, Sedona still finds the festive period extremely difficult, particularly as she tried to take her own life on Christmas Day 2019.
“I tend to relive the whole experience and I find Christmas quite triggering, but luckily the staff here at St Andrew’s understand that. They’re incredibly supportive and try to make it a positive time for everyone. To be honest, the best support I’ve received has been at St Andrew’s and I can absolutely say that if it wasn’t for this hospital, I would not be here.”
Now that Sedona is much better she is hoping to be discharged from hospital next year and is starting to make plans for the future, which will involve trying to publish a book she has already written about her mental health experiences.
St Andrew’s CEO Jess Lievesley said:
“Christmas can be a challenging time for some people and in Sedona’s case, where she experienced severe trauma around the festive period, it has had a profound effect on her life.
“I am extremely grateful to my wonderful colleagues here at St Andrew’s who have refused to give up in order to achieve Sedona’s full potential and in doing so, have effectively saved her life. It takes a special kind of person to work here and dedicate so much time, attention and energy to our service users. Our staff offer hope, optimism and a commitment to never give up, even when, in some instances, the patient themselves may not be able to see their own potential.
“But, as Sedona has discovered, when you’re placed in the right setting, surrounded by caring healthcare professionals and supportive staff, you really can find hope. We now wish for Sedona to continue on her recovery journey and continue to live a happy and healthy life.”