26 Days
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Aurelia is 29 and will die soon. Because it is her decision.

In the Netherlands, where Aurelia lives, euthanasia is allowed since 2002. Every year several thousand people end their lives there legally with the help of a doctor, because their pain is unbearable and there is no chance for recovery.

When is the suffering too much to live on? Aurelia is physically healthy, she still could live for a long time. But she suffers from a seriously mentally illness. Aurelia has (among other things) borderline, depression, various anxiety disorders, eating disorders. She puts glass into her body, squeezes cigarettes on her arms and sprays deodorant in her eyes. Since she was 21 she wanted to die and tried to commit suicide several times. She says, "I would love to live, but in my head is a monster that sticks with a hundred knives." She tried to fight against her illness many years. She made all possible treatments and therapies. But the monster is getting bigger and bigger. She says, "I want to end my life because I want to end my suffering."

Although euthanasia is legal for mentally ill people in the Netherlands, doctors allow it just in a few cases. Aurelia says, "It's my life, my pain, my decision, my death. If people with cancer are allowed to die, why not me too?“ She describes her illness as invisible cancer. Since eight years now she has been fighting for her own death.

In the media suicide is reported just in few cases, for a good reason: to prevent further suicides. Aurelia says she does not want people trigger to kill themselves. She wants those who really want to end their lifes because of suffering to have the chance to die self-determined and accompanied by a doctor. Not alone, not after a self-mixed overdose, not after a jump before a train, not after a jump from a high building. But at home, in the own bed surrounded loved ones and in dignity.

In the Netherlands the Levenseindekliniek (end-of-life-clinic) sends mobile teams to provide ambulatory euthanasia. It is not easy for mentally ill patients to get euthanasia. Aurelia has applied there for the permission to die, first in 2012, she was rejected because she had not yet tried all treatment options. At the beginnig of 2017 again, she is one of 503 applicants. She talked to doctors and psychologists, filled in forms and took medical records. And she goes public. Where is the difference between an incurably ill patient, who can no longer endure the pain of his physical illness, and an incurably ill patient who can no longer endure the pain of his mental illness? Aurelia has a mission, she blogs, posts, tweets. She wants to tell her story, to create awareness and hopes to get more understanding for euthanasia for mentally ill patients.

On the 31th of December 2017 a phone call comes from the clinic: Aurelia is allowed to die, in 26 days.

The doctors of the euthanasia clinic have certified that Aurelia`s fight for healing is without a chance. Is that a scandal? Or is it time to talk about that also mentally ill people can get to the point where their suffering is unbearable, and it is more ethical to help them ending a life in order to relieve pain and suffering? Not everyone with the wish for euthanasia get it, even if most critics fear it: the majority is rejected. In the clinic, which granted Aurelia`s application, 457 of the 503 applications of mentally ill people were in 2017 denied.

I accompanied Aurelia during the last weeks untill her death.