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Posted on Dec 20 2021 by

A young woman who experienced a childhood trauma on Christmas Eve which triggered a decade long battle with mental illness has said a Northampton 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 bullied badly, which forced her to change schools several times and physical assault soon after led her to 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, a severe trauma which she experienced around this time of year has had a profound effect on her life.

“I am extremely grateful to the wonderful staff here at St Andrew’s who have refused to give up on Sedona  and 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 patients, who in the beginning of their recovery journey, may not even want to be helped.

“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. Now, my hope for Sedona is that she can continue on her recovery journey and find a way to live a happy and healthy life doing whatever she wants to do.”

To watch her interview, click here.