Amy De Schutter, profiled in Road to Mercy, has suffered from mental illness for more than half her life. She's attempted suicide more than 10 times and after years of treatment, she's lost the will to fight and has requested MAiD. She wrote a book, How to Turn a Flower Into a Monster about her journey. It's available in Dutch in early October. Here's an excerpt.
How to Turn A Flower Into a Monster: By Amy De Schutter
I kept saying to my family doctor and psychologist that I found life too difficult. Life was not something for me. I always live in extremes, black and white and get stressed out over the smallest things. I get frustrated because people don't understand me and I don't understand them. The never-ending nightmares about my traumas took too much of my energy. The more I talked to my doctor about suicide, the more I saw in her eyes that she did not know how she could help me.
She tried medication, rest, sent me to psychologists. She knew she could not send me to a psychiatrist because of the trauma I experienced during five years in psychiatric institutions. For years they had drugged me, and I swore to myself that this would never happen to me again. But I had no other option and I trusted my family doctor. I tried taking antidepressants, but like the times before I had a lot of side effects. Still, I persevered. After six weeks, I still noticed no difference and so I could stop taking this medication.
I was really tired of fighting. I could not cope anymore. My doctor saw that I was barely surviving. I looked tired, often cried in her office. We tried other antidepressants but again the side effects were too severe. Sleep medication helped me, but we knew that I'm someone who can quickly get addicted to things so we had to be careful. I started with a half-pill a day but this was only a temporary solution to a long-term problem.
My doctor and psychologist saw me slipping further and I kept saying that I could not continue suffering like this. The nightmares, the traumas, the intense emotions were too hard. I think it was in June 2015 that she first told me that I could choose euthanasia, and not die alone and in a painful way, which is often the case with suicide. I always feared that a loved one would find me, that my friends and family would not get a proper farewell from me. We decided that I would think about it for a month, that I should first do some research and see how it feels for me.
The conversation with my psychologist makes me think about how powerless and vulnerable I was during the periods of psychiatric isolation. I still feel like that girl locked in herself with frightening, dark thoughts. I lose control. The painful memories hurt me. I do not know how to deal with that pain. The powerlessness and vulnerability is overtaking my life, I cannot avoid it. I’ve felt like a dirty, empty box of little value for so long now. I feel lonely all the time, alone with these extreme emotions and I can't talk about them. I am so tired all the time. For years I was a strong woman with fighting spirit and survived in this strange world that I don't understand but I feel like that part is fading away. There is no energy left to work on the traumas, to work on myself.
A month later I was looking up as much as possible about euthanasia for mental suffering. The information I could find, gave me a good general idea, but a month proved not quite enough for me. It took another month before I officially made my euthanasia request to my family doctor.