© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
‘I’ve had such a rotten life’ — psychiatric woman picks date of death by euthanasia
Life is good. So goes a popular saying, but that is not the case with Aurelia (surname undisclosed) who has chosen Friday January 26 as her death day after battling severe psychological problems from an early age.
Though Aurelia has no terminal illness, she knows she will die in three days’ time; her option for euthanasia was granted on New Year’s Eve after a rigorous process.
Aurelia says she is comforted that she would be surrounded by friends and in her own bed as she finally reunites with her mother, who died in August after a heart operation.
“I have been so devoured by my psychiatric disorders that I am completely broken,” Dutch television, RTL Nieuws quotes Aurelia as saying.
“I want to die in a dignified way. I think that after such a rotten life I am entitled to a dignified death — people who have a serious illness also get a chance for a dignified end, so why is it so difficult for people who are to be psychic? I think I have the right to die dignified; I am a human being.”
It was a long and difficult road before Aurelia’s euthanasia was approved and that is why she wants attention for her story. Not for herself, but for others who also find life psychologically too heavy, have no chance of recovery and want to die in a dignified way.
Aurelia has had a death wish for years. The 29-year-old made her first suicide attempt when she was 21. In the past eight years, she has attempted it more than 20 times.
All these times she was found just in time by people around her. For the people who found her, including her parents and a friend, “that is horrible for them”.
“I became depressed from the age of 12,” she says. “I had thoughts about myself but my parents thought it would be okay.”
Aurelia actually started damaging herself at the age of 15. She cut her body in her arms.
“I had to lose my emotions, I did it when I had a lot of mental pain. You get a physical reaction, a hormone goes to your brain, you feel a relief, and you can focus on that pain, and taking care of the wounds with bandages and bandages, instead of the pain in your head.”
It was December 2003 that Aurelia received medicine for the first time against her mental problems. “They (the Doctors) thought: everything will be fine, we’ll put a pill in it.”
But it did not stop. She still cuts herself to this day. “Most people stop after four or five years, but I still do it, sometimes three times a day.”
In 2013, Aurelia set fire to a shed under an apartment where many people live. She ended up in prison where she spent two and a half years.
“The arson I did during a psychosis, I hear and see things that are not there, I always have voices in my head, there are three, sometimes they are noisy and at other times they are quiet.”
In the prison, where she spent two and a half years, there was no therapy. She was released in December 2016.
At the beginning of 2017, Aurelia, in consultation with her psychiatrist and psychologist, wanted to try a final therapy that would see her hospitalized for three months, “but after an intake interview, they said they could not help me, my problem was too complicated.”
“Because they could not help me, I was untreated and that is an important condition for euthanasia, when I quickly started the euthanasia process,” she says.
Aurelia’s euthanasia will be carried out by personnel from the End-of-Life Clinic, and the procedure has been explained to her.
It will happen on January 26, at 2 pm. The doctor will come to prepare a drink that Aurelia will gulp herself. She will then sink into an ever deeper sleep for the next hour; eventually, her heart will stop.
“I thought it was very intense, they explain how it works, how it works with the drink, how your body responds, and then they tell you that your body and lips are turning blue and what your body is going to do. And then you’re dead, but I was shocked by those words: blue, death,” says Aurelia.
Until that happens, it will be special days.
“I would like to do something nice with my friends the night before, when the weather is nice: a barbecue or other gourmet, and my friends want a night watch that night.”
Though Sara’s friends will be there during her last moments, her parents will not. Her mother is late; her father, still alive, will not be there either.
“It is too difficult for him,” she says. “He has lost two people in a short time, he accepts it, he knows me and knows that I have this wish for so long. He says: ‘I can be happy for you, but I will be at the cremation’, which I think is very important.”
“Then I see my mother again. I believe in God and in heaven and I want to see her again. I was very angry when she died, but a friend said ‘she has created a kind of house for you and is waiting for you, you’re not alone.’ That’s a nice thought; I’m going to her. ”
In the Netherlands, euthanasia is permitted under strict conditions. There must be unbearable and hopeless suffering and the person making the request must be competent. This suffering can be the result of a physical illness, but can also be psychological.
However, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition — a group working to lower the trend of assisted suicide — wants Aurelia, whose real name is Aurelia, to live.
“Aurelia — we want you to live,” Alex Schadenberg, its Executive Director, said in an email blast to collect signatures in a last-ditch attempt to force the impeding euthanasia.
“At this moment, life may seem dark and without a future, but we want her to know that there is help and there are people who want to care for her. Many people have experienced similar pain and struggles and yet life can change and happiness is possible.”
The group is encouraging the public to sign its ‘Letter of Hope to Aurelia’ here.