Public Choice Awards 2018/19
Outstanding Care and Compassion Award: CFYP

Danielle Sands

Is a finalist for this award

Job title
Case Manager 
Children, Families and Young People’s Service 
Central Norfolk 

The nomination said...

I’m 23 years old and seven years ago, at the age of 16, I was diagnosed with depression. Throughout high school I was severely bullied, both verbally and physically which turned my life upside down. Home life also became particularly difficult and I began self-harming on a daily basis.

Initially I was rejected by my GP, but eventually I began seeing a counsellor at CAHMS. Although my counsellor was very nice and supportive, I could trust no-one and spoke very little. Self-harm became more severe, I developed an eating disorder and I felt suicidal. Unable to help, my counsellor sent me to a psychiatric unit.

During my five month admission I took two attempts on my life, and unable to do anything more for me, I was discharged, but re-admitted elsewhere a month later. This admission was very brief because the psychiatrist told me “We can’t help you here.”

By this point I was with the Youth Service at 80 St.Stephens, with a lovely care co-ordinator who was willing to help, yet I still struggled with trust, so it was difficult to connect with her for a long time. Lower than ever, with no hope for the future, I starved myself until my weight became far too low and I had to be admitted to an eating disorder clinic.

As time went by, I had another two hospital admissions, I continued to self-harm and take attempts on my life. My diagnosis was changed from depression to Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD). My emotions and dangerous behaviours were so out of control, nobody, including myself, understood why. I was put on so much medication I turned into a zombie because the health professionals didn’t know what else to do with me.

By the time I had begun to really trust my care co-ordinator, in May 2016 she got a new job and this is where I was passed over to my new care co-ordinator, Danielle Sands. She arrived to my CPA, smartly dressed, wearing high heels and a beaming smile. I didn’t have much contact with Danielle until a year later, March 2017, when I was discharged from hospital.

This is where I discovered Danielle wasn’t just a smartly dressed lady in high-heels, she was different from any other health professional I had come across. Danielle was the first person to treat me like a human being, and not just a mental health patient. She has this mad, but loveable personality which has made me come to trust her, more than I’ve ever been able to trust anyone. She grabs my weaknesses and turns them into strengths, constantly showering me with “love and kindness”, boosting my self-esteem and encouraging me to step out of my comfort zone. I have achieved more in this past year than I have in my life time because Danielle believed in me when nobody else did; she saw my potential which has been hidden behind my illness for so long.

Danielle always goes the extra mile to help. She’s the busiest person I know; and she’s so busy because she would rather work overtime to make sure all of her clients are okay. When I’m feeling down, I know I can reach out to Danielle and she will give me that little bit of faith to keep me going, even if it’s just one of her texts saying “Sending Love and Kindness”. She doesn’t allow me to feel hopeless because she has such a positive view on life and can find good in the darkest of places.

For many years, nobody could put their finger on what was wrong with me, why I was so emotionally unstable. They always thought I was just ‘acting out’. They hit a brick wall with no idea on how to help me. With only a few months of knowing Danielle, she figured it out, and although I gained a diagnosis of C-PTSD, it was like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders, because it meant I wasn’t just a lost cause, I finally knew what was wrong with me and that it can be treated.

Before I met Danielle, my mind was set on suicide because I couldn’t see the point in carrying on, but Danielle has shown me the beauty of the world and the thousands of reasons to live. I can honestly say, if it weren’t for Danielle Sands, I wouldn’t be alive today.

Nominated by: A service user