GEMMA Addicott


My Story I have always been a shy kid. I have dealt with self-harm from the mere age of 12. However, things began to get worse once I moved schools – going from primary school to high school. I did not cope well and found that my anxiety grew worse. I found it difficult to put myself out there and make friends. When I was 14, I began talking to the school chaplain more and more where it got to the point that I confessed my thoughts about suicide and my parents were called. I had to go to the GP and then to the hospital for the first time regarding my mental health. From there, I began working with CYMHS where I was diagnosed with social anxiety and depression. Life at home around this time also became harder. My parents did not know why I was acting the way I was acting, and I found it difficult to communicate with them or anyone for that matter. I would never talk to health professionals; instead, I would write things down on paper. Soon enough I got diagnosed with Selective Mutism and only ever first talked to a professional right before my 18th birthday where I spent my 18th birthday in the hospital.

I moved schools again in grade 11. I found myself going through the same issues. I isolated myself away from potential friends and started going to the guidance counsellor where I would only write to him. My parents realised that I was hardly spending any time in class. I was dealing with suicidal thoughts and got the courage to tell the guidance counsellor. He then put it into his hands to send me to hospital and I had my first ever admission into an adolescent psychiatric unit. My parents withdrew me from school once this happened. During the next few months – I was at home, alone for the most part, and was not coping. This is where I had my first suicide attempt. I was again put into an adolescent psychiatric unit once I was medically okay. This cycle began to happen more constantly. I have had several suicide attempts in my lifetime. However, I attempted to go back to my old school in term 3 of grade 11 where I only lasted 2 weeks before withdrawing. The school put rules onto me, and I was not even allowed to leave the classroom to go to the toilet. I then got threatened by the school to be expelled if I did not attend the Year 11 camp – so I chose to leave and never returned to another school after that.

I began coming in and out of hospital more often. I was not coping at all. Health professionals started to note that I had dissociation and BPD symptoms. However, I was not diagnosed with BPD until I was 18. I did not realise that I had a stigma against BPD until I got diagnosed with it. I thought that everyone who was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder had intense anger but then I realised that is not the case. I would direct my frustrations on myself instead of onto others. When I was 18 – I was transferred from an adolescent psychiatric unit to an adult psychiatric unit. This was very scary. I was surrounded by people the age of 35-50 and was the only young person in the ward. Later, I would be put onto adult high dependency units where they only held 4 beds and constant monitoring (at least they were meant to). On this high dependency unit, I was almost murdered by another patient. I have not been that scared in my entire life.

Homelife was getting harder and my parents and siblings did not understand what was going on. At this point: I had probably 15 admissions in and out of hospitals. I was diagnosed with BPD, depression, anxiety, selective mutism, dissociation, PTSD and an eating disorder. The first time I spoke to a health professional was at the age of 18 – where I got the police involved and got out of a toxic situation. I am now fully recovered from selective mutism.

My story continues into recovery today. Last year from October-December I was extremely ill. I had been in medical for the majority of the admission due to my eating disorder. This year, however, I voluntarily got admitted into a private hospital where I was open to trying TMS. I stayed there for another 3 months. I got my medications changed around when TMS was not effective for me. I hope to use my story and experiences to help others who may be feeling or going through similar things. It can be awfully hard to reach out and change. However, it is so important. You deserve help and you deserve to have a voice. Sometimes it can be hard to reach out.

Despite everything I have been through, I am still here today. I want to help others and start using my voice more. I have gone from a girl who would never talk, to the young woman I am today. Please know that you are important. You are not your diagnoses and you can overcome your battles. I am immensely proud to be an ambassador for this campaign and hope that my story can help others.

This is the next step of my story.

Gemma Addicott