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Mum begs for help for daughter (24) who has gone from crack to injecting heroin

'Her life is hanging by a thread... If she’s not given the support she needs I will be burying my child'
So weak: Stephanie is a shadow of her former self

So weak: Stephanie is a shadow of her former self

Paula Mackin

Tracey Coulter is waiting on the knock at the door that will shatter her already broken heart.

She waits every day for news that her eldest daughter Stephanie McKeag has been found dead as her drug addiction and mental health issues spiral out of control.

Tracey is a woman who lives in constant fear and frustration as she tries desperately every waking hour to save her daughter's life.

Speaking to the Sunday World, with her 24-year-old daughter's permission, she lifts the lid on the nightmare that has become their life.

Tracey Coulter pictured in her home. Picture By: Pacemaker Press.

Tracey Coulter pictured in her home. Picture By: Pacemaker Press.

And she insists that if the Department of Health's mental health team does not step in and give her child the treatment she desperately needs, sectioning her until she beats her demons, she will be standing by her child's grave before the end of the month.

Struck down: Stephanie today

Struck down: Stephanie today

For Stephanie, who is barely recognisable as the beautiful young woman she was, has switched from using crack cocaine to injecting heroin - something her frail and ravished body cannot cope with.

Last night the terrified girl was receiving treatment in Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital to prevent amputation due to the damage caused to her feet by injecting heroin between her toes.

Stephanie's mum Tracey wants her to be taken into a mental health unit until she's clean

Stephanie's mum Tracey wants her to be taken into a mental health unit until she's clean

She was on a drip to fight an infection that could cause life-changing damage or even death.

"My daughter's life is hanging by a thread, literally. I'm just waiting on the call or the knock on the door to say my child is dead and I believe deep down that will happen. I know if she is not given the mental support she needs I will be burying my child," Tracey told the Sunday World in an emotional interview.

"I've tried everything, I've rang mental health to get her admitted but they only do that for a few weeks and then she's back out on the streets.

Stephanie before she started taking heroin

Stephanie before she started taking heroin

"She's never in long enough for them to get what is in her system out or what is needed into her system, her medication, to get in. She has been failed, my child has been failed."

Stephanie doesn't want to die, she has cried out repeatedly for help and this is her last chance of survival, according to loving mum Tracey.

Before her downward spiral: Stephanie was a bright and bubbly young woman

Before her downward spiral: Stephanie was a bright and bubbly young woman

"My child is terrified of dying but, because of her mental health, she's doing everything possible to do just that. The chances she takes on the streets, the drugs she takes. Now she is on heroin but she's so weak her body just can't take it.

"She cries out to me, she's in so much pain and yesterday she said she wanted to take her own life because she can't keep on living the way she is now.

"It's breaking my heart because I've tried everything to help her and get her off this stuff but until her mental health is addressed she keeps on taking the drugs.

"People look at my child and think she is a druggie, I know my daughter takes drugs, I know all of it because she tells me but I also know she only takes them because of her mental health issues, personality disorder and schizophrenia.

"She needs to stay in hospital for a long time so she can reprogramme. She needs to be somewhere where she takes the medications she has been prescribed because she won't take them on her own. She goes in for a few weeks and starts to improve then she is chucked out and the spiral continues.

"The spiral has to stop and the only way that will happen and my daughter's life is saved is if she is kept in a mental health unit until she is completely clean, better and taking the drugs that help her."

Tracey is terrified her daughter's current medical condition could lead to the removal of a limb. She is also waiting on HIV and Aids results due to the fact Stephanie admitted to sharing needles.

Images of the flat she lives in are harrowing. It was deemed unfit to live in because of the squalor, despite devoted mum Tracey continuing to try and keep it in order.

Drugs paraphernalia Tracey found in her daughter's flat

Drugs paraphernalia Tracey found in her daughter's flat

"It's never ending. You tidy up - I've taken black bags out of the place - there are needles everywhere yet according to the mental health team she is capable of living on her own.

"People think I'm aggressive but I'm not. I'm just so frustrated that no one is listening. They can't see what a blind man could see when you look at my daughter. She's a mess, she cries out for help and she silently cries too.

"I ask them, what if it was your daughter? What would you do, how would you behave?

"She needs to be hospitalised or I will be ringing the funeral directors. When she's in - which she has been every few months for years now - she never asks to leave.

"When she starts to take her medication you can see the difference, she calms down. My Stephanie without her meds sees demons, she has voices in her head.

"She told me once that she could never tell the whole truth because she was terrified of being locked up for ever. She has a woman who speaks to her now, telling her to do things - what part of all that does not make her vulnerable enough to get full-time help inside a hospital?"

In tears, the mother of four revealed she had already planned her daughter's funeral, even down to the details of the songs she knows Stephanie would want played.

"I cry all the time, I'm terrified all the time and I am exhausted too because all I do is worry, all I do is fight. If anything happens to my child I will hold them to blame, they would be child killers in my eyes because I have told them over and over if they don't do more she will die."

A spokesperson from the Belfast Trust said: "Belfast Trust are unable to go into details of individual's care; however, we acknowledge the deep concern felt by many families whose loved ones are experiencing mental ill-health.

"We strive to ensure every patient is treated with compassion and sensitivity and continue to ensure that all service users receive the appropriate level of care and intervention they need."

paula.mackin@sundayworld.com


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