RUGBY star Abi Burton has revealed that she was wrongly sectioned for almost a month and spent 25 days in an induced coma.
It came a year after missing out on a medal at the Tokyo Olympics with Team GB.
After losing in the bronze medal play off to Team Fiji, she felt very “lost” despite inspiring a new generation of sevens players.
She told the BBC: “You feel empty because you work towards an Olympics for so long and then you don’t come away with what you want to achieve.”
Burton revealed that she was put on anti-depressants as it is what people “go to” first.
“I was in training camp and I hadn’t been selected for the European tournament, which was to help us qualify for the World Cup.
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“It was the first tournament I hadn’t gone to in my four years of playing.
“They said to have a bit of time at home, to try and figure out what’s wrong.”
After arriving home on June 15, 2022, Burton suffered a seizure and was taken to the hospital.
However as it was her first one, she was told that it “could also be her last”.
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But this is when Burton says that her behaviour changed significantly.
She said: “I went from being a timid, unresponsive person, to really quite manic behaviour.
“I was really aggressive towards my parents, siblings and even the dog.”
After having more seizures, this is when Burton was sectioned, with doctors thinking that she was suffering from stress-induced psychosis.
The 22-year-old spent 26 days in Fieldhead Hospital, a psychiatric and learning disability hospital in Wakefield, but her behaviour continued to get worse.
Burton said: “I was being treated for psychosis, basically.
“They didn’t rule out an autoimmune illness, but they didn’t test me for it either.”
And it was only when chief medical officer Richard Robinson suggested to Burton’s father that he thought she might have a “very rare” disease called autoimmune encephalitis, which she was diagnosed with after tests.
Burton was then moved to a different hospital and once a bed became free on the stroke and neurology unit her family allowed her to be put in a coma so she could have plasma exchanges.
Burton said: “They knew they couldn’t treat me. I was too agitated, it had gone too far.”
While she spent three weeks in the coma her team-mates were competing at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. To make matters worse she also suffered from pneumonia two times in this period.
Whe she woke up she had lost more than three stone and could not talk or walk.
She said: “I don’t think I realised how poorly I was when I first woke up, and I had no desire to ask.
“I had no muscle. I thought: ‘This is awful. This isn’t me. I don’t look like me.’ It was really tough.
“I grieve for that part because it was taken away from me.
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“For so many years, rugby was my identity and then I couldn’t play.”
But she is not a quiter and completed Team GB doctor’s intensive progamme and has been able to return to training with her team-mates.