Cheryl's Story

It started when I was 16. There was a lot of stress on me not to turn out like my sister, not to turn to drugs and all, because people my age were doing that, and I got accused of taking drugs, but I’ve never taken a drug in my life.

Cheryl's Story

It started when I was 16. There was a lot of stress on me not to turn out like my sister, not to turn to drugs and all, because people my age were doing that, and I got accused of taking drugs, but I’ve never taken a drug in my life. For years I wasn’t allowed near my sister before I was 16 because she was taking drugs. I wasn’t allowed to see her, so I used to sneak off without my mummy knowing and I would sneak to her house. I’d pretend to my mummy I was going to stay and a friend’s house, but I would have stayed with her. Just to be with her.

Then my sister started going really bad with drugs and my other sister tried to control her and it made her worse. My other sister got her, her own flat and all but she didn’t like living on her own or like the dark. I had shared a room with her from when I was born to when she moved out at 18, so I was always with her and she had never been on her own before. She got a flat on her own and was staying by herself and she started to have schizophrenia and hear things in her head.

She was more of a people pleaser - what she had she would give to other people and she would invite people she didn’t know into her house – homeless people and people from the streets, trusting them because she was a trusting person and she would have parties with all these people she didn’t even know

One time I beaked school and went to her house to see her without my mummy knowing. She was having a party and just something clicked in her head and she just started going crazy…. she tried to throw herself out of a window and I caught her by her hair. I basically saved her and then she just went nuts and threw a pole at a UVFs man’s car and then the man next door was hitting her and beating her. I was standing watching, then she got arrested. She was never mean, she just couldn’t control her anger because she had problems, so she got arrested and had to spend the night in jail which made her worse, obviously because she didn’t like being by herself

Then when she came out, my mummy didn’t want anything to do with her – that was the last string. Neither did everyone else and I was the only one who stuck up for her and all.

About a month or two months before Christmas she came to my house and she was on drugs and had nowhere to stay. My mummy said ‘yes, we’ll take you in’ and my mummy tried to wean her off the drugs and she was off them for a good while. She went to my other sister’s house to stay, I don’t know why she went but she just went to stay for a couple of nights. Then on Christmas Eve she had a seizure in my sister’s house and my sister phoned the ambulance, but she wouldn’t go with them to the hospital. See my sister has an autistic child and she said she can’t be taking drugs around him so she had to go to her own house and stay. So, she went to her own house

She texted me on Christmas Eve night about asking me what I got for Christmas and all. And then she went out on Christmas night with her friends to a party and obviously took too many drugs and overdosed herself and passed away.

I don’t think it’s ever got better ever since, it’s really raw, it was only last year. See I think the worst part is my mummy never went through anything like that, I never saw her cry before – it just broke my mummy.

Before she went away, she didn’t think anybody liked her, she just didn’t understand how much she has broken my family apart. You see all these people my age taking these drugs and just ruining their lives and they just don’t understand what they are doing to themselves, and when you try and tell them they just don’t care. They are not understanding that they are ripping their families and themselves apart. They don’t think it is going to happen to them or their families or how it is ruining their lives. There were times when I saw my sister take 10 drugs but when she died she only took 5. It’s how the body takes it, take one drug and die. I thought it would never happen to my family and I didn’t have to worry about my sister, I always thought she would come out of being a drug addict, but she never did, and I think that’s the worst part. You have so much hope and you think this is never going to happen to you.

People didn’t understand the impact on someone else – people may say they hate someone, my sister thought everybody hated her and that everyone was against her, she just didn’t understand how much she meant to my family and how she left her family or how the drugs would have affected her. She didn’t mean to do it – it wasn’t on purpose – she thought she could keep in with people by taking drugs, she didn’t realise that there were mean people in the world – spiking her with other things.

She died from taking Lyrica, prescription drugs – they’re also called buds. Last year, lots of people died from taking Lyrica and it was all over the news. They don’t understand what they are doing, so many people take drugs and don’t think it will happen to them. They don’t understand how the body deteriorates, they see themselves as normal, but their features change, they lose weight and her attitude to the whole world changed.

When Michelle was living with me she was happy, like she had her bad days and her good days like a normal person, but when she started taking Lyrica, she was trying to kill herself and all. That was never her. When she tried to throw herself out the window, me and my mummy took her to the mental hospital over at the Mater and asked what to do if she tried to kill herself. They said it was up to Michelle if she kills herself – that was ridiculous to say to a mental health patient. We didn’t feel supported. My mummy tried to get Michelle sectioned, but was told that she could only get her in if she paid £4,000 there and then. She contacted the Stephen Nolan show but he didn’t reply until after Michelle’s death. She had texted and emailed them saying that her daughter had been turned away from the Mater mental health team. But he never got back to her and then she texted him again on Boxing Day night saying, ‘Just to let you know that the person I was asking you to help has died’ and then that’s when he replied. He replied when it was too late.

She had tried a few paying places, but you had to pay right away, and she didn’t have money. You weren’t able to pay it off and no one has that kind of money straight away.

I want to tell my story to raise awareness about what drugs do to you, your family and your mental health because Michelle was in contact with the mental health team from no age. She suffered from ADSD and Asperger’s. We need to raise awareness of what needs to be done – too many young people are killing themselves and nothing is being done, too many young people dying because of mental health

There are buildings lying around not being used, where the homeless could go to feel safe, where young people being kicked out of their home can go because that causes mental health problems - they can’t go to youth clubs after a certain age. There needs to be somewhere for older young people.

People need to know what drugs really do to you, what it is like to take drugs. Mummy and Michelle had a fight a couple of weeks after she was 18 and she said she didn’t want to live at home any more. Mummy had babied her because she had mental health problems and she protected her more than she would protect anyone else. She would only let her out at certain times and later she started taking drugs, went straight to Lyrica not grass. She wouldn’t have taken drugs if she was in my house or she wouldn’t have taken them but for her friends. She just gave in to peer pressure, which happens to most young people these days.

Drugs are so easy to get now, people adding you on Facebook with drugs as their profile picture. Drug dealers messaging you – police don’t seem to be doing anything about it. I had a friend whose father got caught with drugs and was released on bail but was still doing drugs.

Michelle was found in a drug dealer’s house. He tried to kill himself and all after it - police said they weren’t going to do anything. My mummy wanted them to take him somewhere – she would like if he could get help because no one had done that for Michelle. Police don’t seem to offer enough support that people need

On Boxing Day, I was at a friend’s house. Mummy phoned for me to come home - she didn’t say anything on the phone but there was a policeman at the house. He said that they had found someone dead and asked my mummy to describe what Michelle looked like. They should have left a liaison officer with us, but they didn’t. This was at 4pm and they didn’t phone back to say they had confirmed the body. Then mummy had to phone the police station at 11pm and the police asked if it were men in uniform who were at the house because they didn’t have any information of anyone with that name being dead. So, it gave my mummy hope that it wasn’t my sister and then another police officer phoned back and said it was her, so they were just contradicting each other.

My mum didn’t want any press or anything and on the day of the funeral there were photographers hiding behind trees at Roselawn and taking pictures of mummy and my sister looking at the coffin. They even asked if they could take a photo of Michelle’s body. They didn’t care, just wanted a photo for their paper. We didn’t have any privacy, there was no sympathy, they didn’t care. Michelle was just 21 - still young. It was tough sharing all this but that is all for the moment.

The Good Friday Agreement promised us a peaceful, safe world, yet mental health is such a big problem here. My family and I suffer the loss of my sister every day, because those in government failed to keep their promise.


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