Mental Health, Abuse and IIH – This Is My Story

Growing up, as the youngest of a massive family I was always compared to my elder siblings although there was a 18 year age gap between me and my brother before me. As the ‘baby’ I felt constant pressure to work hard and be something especially as they all chose paths that lead to crime or teenage pregnancies, I was determined to be more, do more and see more before I chose another of them options.

I practically grew up as an only child and it was just me and my mom, as my dad was in prison and my siblings branched off and created their own lives. Out of all 8 children I was the only child raised by my mother as as a result of her mental health she wasn’t able to was able to care for my siblings, however my mother went to prison when I was 8 due to drug trafficking charges and was sentenced to 4 years.

Being as I was in primary school at the time I was taken in by my oldest sister however she had 2 children of her own and wasn’t able to care for me long term. I then moved on to my fathers after he got out of prison but a year into me living with him, he was scheduled to have spinal surgery so I went to live with my mothers 1st cousin for the duration of his hospital stay, whom I called an Auntie. She had a 79 year old husband who had Alzheimer’s disease and one weekend at the age of 9 I was left alone to care for him as she went away for a shopping trip. Her husband raped me and I believe that was the straw that broke the camels back in terms of my mental health.

From there I became angry and bitter, towards my mother especially and made 3 attempts to overdose and hang myself all before I had reached secondary school. My mother came out of prison and I decided to go and live with her in a new city, but despite the change of location my behaviour did not and I was kicked out of 5 schools throughout my secondary school life.

2 weeks into Year 8 I got into an altercation with my mother as I had been skipping school to smoke weed or drink and had been kicked out of my first school just weeks before for selling weed ( I was only in possession). I had returned home having being missing for 2 days at a friends and she had put her key in the other side of the door so I could not unlock it, I knocked the door and she replied through the letter box ‘call the police cause you are not staying here tonight’.. when the police arrived 4 hours later, I was still sat outside and when they went into the house to speak to my mother she told them ‘ if I have to spend one more night in this house , they’ll be taking me out in a body bag’ so I was removed and taken into protective custody.

I went to live with a strict Kenyan family as an emergency one night placement but ended up staying for 11 months before returning home. After 2 months, me and my mother ended up in an argument where she gave me a black eye and a broken collarbone and then sent me to school. I decided that day that I didn’t want to return and after my teachers witnessing her attempt to drag me by my hair off school grounds once, they were inclined to call my social worker either way.

I moved a further 14 times around the system after that, from Birmingham to Coventry, then in and around Coventry, then moved to placements in London, Tamworth, Nottingham and then returned home to Birmingham after being assaulted by the Manager of a Residential Care Home I was staying at to then be moved into Semi independent living. Throughout those moves, I did things no 13/14/15 year old should have to, nor want to do. I did unspeakable things with men twice my age simply just for place to lay my head when I was in an unstable placement.

I was sexually assaulted and abused, physically abused and after being diagnosed with Bipolar Depression, PTSD , Borderline Personality Disorder, Anxiety and Attachment Difficulties in Year 10, I struggled with addiction to Lamotrigine, Melatonin and Sertraline aswell as a serious Cocaine addiction after having a ectopic pregnancy in 2020.

After moving back to Birmingham, I finally felt as if things were on the bright side, I reconnected with some of my family after almost 6 years, I came off of medication and decided to try and balance my mental health, went back to college, got a flat and a job, and then found out I was pregnant in December 2019. My partner at the time, I had known since nursery and was as you could say my ‘childhood sweetheart’ but being a young, practically single mother in care wasn’t exactly the plan I had in mind… We spoke about it and the more I thought about it, the more I realised It was either the baby or him, but in retrospect I ended up loosing both due to it being an ectopic pregnancy.

I had woke up and I was bleeding but thought nothing of it as it was just spotting however after speaking to a friend that had just had a ectopic pregnancy scare, I went to my doctors and was told to go to City Hospital for a scan. They told me everything was fine but to keep an eye on the spotting, Although it would most likely be nothing. A week and a half later I collapsed on my bathroom floor and was rushed into hospital to have a vaginal scan, where I was told at 14 weeks and 6 days that my son was growing in my Fallopian tubes and I would need to have him removed otherwise I would face a possible rupture. I had the surgery to remove him the same day and buried him 2 days later on 29.01.2020.

My maniac episode lasted almost 6 months and although I went to work and college everyday like it was normal, I physically couldn’t function without cocaine or alcohol just to get me out of bed let alone get me through the day. Towards the end of the first lockdown I reached out to my mother and we ended up having an actual conversation for once, which in turn started to form a relationship again and when I started to get ill during the middle of May, she encouraged me to go to the hospital as anyone who knows me, knows I’d much rather avoid hospitals at all cost.

I went back and forth to City Hospital 7 times with complaints of nausea, vomiting, migraines, neck stiffness, tinnitus and paralysis in my arms and legs. Due to COVID, I was briefly examined in A and E and then sent home with ‘nothing wrong’ however I woke up on June 27 at 8am to use the bathroom and assumed I had come on my period as I felt wet but when I removed the covers and moved to get out of bed, I seen a baby fetus on my bedsheets lying next to me. I was traumatised and went to the hospital however they did not admit me, I was just told sorry for my loss. I then spent the next 2 and a half weeks not eating, I couldn’t seem to get to the bathroom without almost collapsing, constant hot and cold sweats and my speech began to slur.

I was admitted to City Hospital and they found a infection in my uterus to which I was giving antibiotics through my IV drip because I physically do not like taking tablets and then was sent home 2 days later however I commuted to City Hospital a further 4 times and was sent home before the final time where I had began to develop blurred/double vision and went to Birmingham Eye Hospital where they had told me that the nerves behind my eyes were swollen and I needed to be admitted, but after countless times of going there to be told there was nothing wrong, them finding the infection and now there actually being something else wrong , I just wanted to go home so I booked an appointment and was seen the next morning.

I was then admitted to City Hospital and was told I needed an MRI however was sent home not long after and was told I’d be called with updates on the results. I went home and when I woke up the next day, I could barely see in front of me so I went back to the hospital and was admitted to then be told the nerves at the back of my eyes and my brain were both swelling.

I spent almost 2 weeks in City Hospital having countless blood tests taken, 3 MRI’s and 2 CT scans over the course before I was finally transferred to Queen Elizabeth Hospital. There I was visited by a doctor just hours later and was informed I had an condition called Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension, also known as IIH and would need to have brain surgery and a VP shunt fitted in the next 3 days otherwise they would not be able to preserve my eye sight, so 2 days later I had my surgery on the 28.08.2020.

After the scare of losing not only my eyesight but my life, as well as the grief of loosing 2 babies while being in a bipolar maniac episode.. all in the space of 8 months, I can say 2020 was very detrimental to my mental health. But also taught me the value of life itself. How important and precious it is. How even though the decisions we make will always have a domino effect, it makes a big difference on how you perceive the experience and what you do with the life lessons after.

I reached out to Joellah via an Instagram comment on one of her recent posts about her struggle with the neglect of the NHS and her journey with the grief process of loosing her daughter as well as undergoing such a extensive and serious surgery as I have never found someone to relate too so much in terms of a personal experience and I was more than happy to share mine with her and to see that there is someone speaking about and shedding light on the situation as a whole not just our condition although it is so uncommon and unheard of! And I’m so glad that she encouraged me to share my story too!

Ivyenadaniella

My name is Ivyena-Daniella and I am currently a University Student studying Criminology and Law aswell as a advocate for Mental Health, Sexual Abuse and Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension.

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