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Mental Health Nurse Shares How Depression Landed Her In Inpatient Psychiatric Care

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After 29 years as a mental health nurse, Mandy Stevens never expected she would spend 12 weeks receiving inpatient care for a mental illness. Now the nurse is speaking up about the stigma those with mental illnesses face after facing depression as a patient.

“Mental illness will affect 1 in 4 of us during our lifetime and I guess now it’s my turn,” Stevens, who lives in the U.K., shared in a post on LinkedIn. “As I have worked in mental health services for 29 years, one would think I would be immune to mental illness… But there is no immunity; mental illness can come out of nowhere and affect anyone at any time.”

According to her post, it took 10 days from when Stevens’ depression symptoms started for her to be checked into an inpatient facility by an critical care team. “Depression ripped the rug out from under my feet and emptied my whole being,” she wrote. “I have been completely disabled and incapacitated by this illness.”

It took a lot to share her experience with others, Steven notes. “If I had been in hospital with a broken leg, or a physical problem, no doubt I would have been sharing amusing photos of my drip stand, the signed plaster cast and the hospital food; laughing with my family, friends & extended Social Media community. Instead I have hidden myself away, scared of my own shadow and told very few people.”

Despite her apprehension, Stevens post has resonated with thousands, racking up more than 8,000 likes on the professional social media network. “I suffered a complete breakdown in 2013 that took me a year to recover from,” one commenter shared. “I am proud of my fight and I am proud to help my colleagues that also have to fight the Mental Health fight. They come to me now as I have never hid what happened to me. I needed a safe place and safe people, I am now that safe person for others.”

Along with her post, Stevens shared a selfie she had taken in the midst of her depression, noting “This selfie, taken late November, shows a Mandy that no one will recognize: tearful, distraught, matted hair, frightened, withdrawn, desolate & desperate. So so so far from who I normally am… This is what mental illness has the power to do.”

In addition to thanking her family and medical team for their care, Stevens ended her post with a powerful message:

“Please don’t pity me for having a mental illness. Instead, wish me well for my discharge and full recovery.

I lost my mind, lost my self esteem, lost my pride, lost my sense of who I am, lost my confidence, lost my job & my income, lost my driving license and my independence… but I am slowly picking up the pieces… like a smashed vase, glueing itself together in to a beautiful mosaic. I will be strong again. I will be ok.”

You can read Stevens’ full post on LinkedIn.  

Originally published: January 30, 2017
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