Patient view

Exceptional nurse saved my life after mental health diagnosis

Nurse Karen Coutts has been supporting Alexandra Elkington to make progress after her dissociative identity disorder diagnosis

Alexandra Elkington says Karen Coutts is an exceptional nurse and an amazing person, who taught her how to save herself.

Karen Coutts and Alexandra Elkington. Picture: John Houlihan

When I first met Karen Coutts at a mental health inpatient unit in Lancashire, I was at the lowest point of my life, having been diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder. 

Karen was the first person to truly understand. She was the first person to think outside the box and work with me as an individual rather than the label I had been given. 


I shut down ideas of help and recovery, or being nursed or cared about. I was hopeless. Karen cared about me, speaking to me because she wanted to, rather than because it was her job. 

Karen was the first person to engage and interact with the alternate personalities and through trial and error and positive risks, made more progress with me in five months than anyone else had in the six years since my diagnosis. 

'I will forever be grateful of the amount of work and time she put in with me. She is a nurse of the highest calibre'

She helped other nurses and support workers to understand, and as a team they supported me and gave me the tools I needed to help myself. 

Karen transferred to a different hospital shortly before I was discharged from that admission, but she returned on a bank shift to discharge me and complete that chapter of my journey with me. 

Since then I have been readmitted a few times, but for a matter of a few weeks rather than months. I believe that without Karen's input I would be in a secure forensic unit, or even worse, no longer be alive. 


A couple of times I have been admitted to Karen’s current hospital. Again she leads the team in working with me and helping them to understand, and gets me back on my feet. 

All of the patients respect her and she always goes above and beyond to help in any way she can. She seems to find time to do everything yet always be out on the ward speaking to people. She is superhuman. 

Karen always communicates with my family and community team and keeps them involved in my recovery. They too think she is a fantastic nurse and always look to her for guidance and advice for management in the community. 

Karen's words always ring in my ears and I will forever be grateful of the amount of work and time she put in with me. She is a nurse of the highest calibre.  

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