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Courteney's Story

Anchorage, Alaska USA

"I’ve been battling mental illness for as long as I can remember. I guess my struggles really began at age 12, though.


When I was 12, my beautiful older sister took her life and my entire world came crashing down. Shortly after my sister’s death, I started self-harming as a way to cope with the unimaginable pain. I struggled for many years with Depression, Anxiety and PTSD. At 16, I had my first suicide attempt.


I hid the fact that I was hurting so badly from everyone that I knew. I was scared how people would react, so I hid everything deep down and smiled through it all. Ask anyone and they would tell you that I was the happiest person they knew. I was always smiling and upbeat to hide how badly I was really struggling on the inside.


Eventually things just got so awful and I couldn’t hide anything anymore. Everything took a turn for the very worst in June 2017. In June 2017, I was hospitalized for the first time after a suicide attempt. I stayed in the mental health unit for 36 days and was at a high risk level, so I was not able to be released.


During this time, I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. I was sent from Alaska to a residential facility in Florida, where I spent about 6 months. In those 6 months, I went through two residential stays and was sent to the hospital involuntary twice.


I thought this was going to be the beginning of my recovery, but I was wrong. January 7th 2018, I had an attempt and ended up in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). I was then sent to the mental health unit again where I started for 10 days. I was released and unfortunately attempted less than 12 hours after getting out. I spent another 27 days in the mental health unit, then was sent to a crisis recovery center. I had several more attempts and was in-and-out of the hospital.


April 13th, I had another severe attempt and spent 3 days in the ICU. I was not expected to live, but I survived yet again. This time, the mental health unit would not accept me back and I was put on the waiting list to go to the state institution. I waited in the hospital for 10 days and was scared to death.


I read stories about how people had been treated in the state institution and could not believe I was going to be headed there. I spent 68 days in the Alaska Psychiatric Institution. It was one of the most traumatic experience of my entire life.


I was screamed at, spit at, threatened, hit, and had stuff thrown at me. I slept on a cold, plastic mattress with no sheets. I was sexually assaulted during my stay there. I was so traumatized that the day I was released, I attempted again.


I endured my third ICU stay and was sent back to the state institution that traumatized me so bad. This time I only spent 5 days there and was sent home because I wasn’t getting any better. I had three months of no attempts and everyone thought I was better. I was honestly struggling worse than before, but knew I had no help available to me.


October 11th, I just couldn’t handle the pain anymore and I attempted again. What I took put me into a deep, cold sleep, and not even shaking me could wake me up. I was rushed to the hospital and was there for 5 days. I didn’t want to be sent back to the state institution, so I lied and convinced them I was okay.


They released me and the next day I went out into the woods and was determined to end my life. The police was called and I was taken to the hospital. This was by far my worst attempt and I was seconds away from death. I had to have a central line placed into a main artery my neck that went into my heart. Through this central line, I received dialysis. The doctors told me this was my last hope and that it might not work. I was told to prepare to die a slow and painful death. It ended up working and I survived. I spent 4 days in the ICU and this was my 4th ICU stay since last January.


I left the psychiatrist at a loss. They said there were no treatment options left for me and was sent home. I didn’t know what to do. How could I be sent home after my worst attempt yet? November 8th was my last attempt.


It’s now been a few months. Most days I don’t know how to breathe. I don’t know how to be in this world. I don’t know how to keep going with so much pain. I didn’t expect to still be here. I question why I survived when so many don’t.


But, I am here. I’ve survived all of the days I thought I wouldn’t. I’m still breathing. I’m taking it second-by-second. I can tell you that I will be here for another birthday and another Christmas, when a couple of months ago I couldn’t tell you if I’d be here another minute."