Published on: 25th August 2022
Waking from a coma to a covid world: Nurse credits mental health team with saving her life
It seemed like just another week for local nurse, Jess. She’d just finished a late shift and was walking back to her car. But everything changed when she heard a voice behind her - the last thing she remembers before blacking out.
After being knocked unconscious, Jess was physically assaulted and beaten. She woke from a coma months later into a world that was unrecognisable and the effect on her mental health was enormous.
She woke to a world of covid, where everybody wore masks and had to keep their distance. The streets were empty, and people couldn’t leave home. On top of trying to comprehend this massive reality shift, Jess was also given the heart-breaking news that her partner had passed away while she was in the coma.
“I wasn’t sure I had woken up at all. As an experienced nurse, I knew something wasn’t right by the way the intensive care staff were behaving. I knew they weren’t telling me everything. They eventually explained what the covid pandemic was and told me my fiancée had died.
“Once I was physically well enough, I was released into a world I didn’t know. I walked into Manchester City centre to get a taxi and it felt like a version of The Walking Dead. The streets were empty, and the air was silent, I didn’t think I was alive. I can’t explain how scared I was.
“One minute I’d been in a job I love, engaged to my partner, and on my way home. The next I’m left alone in an alien world that could only belong in a fictional film.
“I couldn’t leave the house or even open my curtain. I’d have a panic attack if someone walked past my window. It’s hard to put into words how I felt mentally. The attack was terrifying, the world was terrifying and my partner, the person I loved most, had died. I felt so alone.
“While I was physically well enough, due to it being peak covid I couldn’t get the mental health support I needed. At my lowest point, I took an overdose to try and take my own life. I didn’t know what else what to do.”
Following this, Jess was referred to the Tameside and Glossop Living Life Well Neighbourhood Mental Health Team, run by professionals from The Big Life Group, Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust, Tameside Council, and Tameside, Oldham, and Glossop Mind.
Jess was put in touch with trainee advanced clinical practitioner Penny Maughan, who spent time listening to her story and how she was feeling.
This allowed Penny to develop a personalised package of support, including reviewing Jess’ medication, arranging a CT scan, helping her develop a safety plan and supporting her to claim for benefits, including a significant back payment.
“I’d be dead now if it wasn’t for Penny and the team. She changed my life. She listened properly and genuinely cared. She’s given me hope and has turned my life around.
“A little thing that made a massive difference was how she explained what support each organisation or professional could offer and how it would help me. She showed real compassion.
“On a practical level, she helped me to get the right medication, solve the financial problems I was facing because I couldn’t work and has taught me coping mechanisms that help me understand my mental health. She broke the cycle.
“She was there even if I just needed a bit of company. She genuinely cared and brought me back from the brink.
“I know now that I’m going to get better, I just don’t know when. I’ve made so much progress. From being at a point where I was too scared to see another person, I now want to get back into nursing. It was my life and I loved it.
“The only reason I’m not dead is because of Penny and the Living Life Well Neighbourhood Mental Health Team.”
How to access support
The Tameside and Glossop living life well neighbourhood mental health team is here for anyone in the borough who needs help with their mental health. People can phone 0161 716 4247 or ask their GP or another health professional to refer them to the service via the borough’s mental health open door (single point of entry).
More information is available at www.selfhelpservices.org.uk/service/tameside-glossop-neighbourhood-mental-health-team