A YOUNG woman who fell 40ft from a mill building has reflected on her extraordinary recovery a year on from almost losing her life.

Rachael Essaid was just 20 when she fell from her fourth floor apartment at Holden Mill, off Blackburn Road in Astley Bridge in the early hours of June 21, 2019.

She landed on a roof of the converted apartment block with emergency services using a 13.5m ladder and a hydraulic platform to rescue her.

Rachael was left in a critical condition with a number of catastrophic injuries but now a year on she is making the first tentative steps towards a full recovery and urging others to seek help if the current lockdown measures have left them feeling the crippling effects of loneliness and depression.

“I don’t have any memory of what happened that day but I know I felt really down and low,” said Rachael, 21. “I just wanted to change the way I looked because I wasn’t happy in myself.

“I was on a life support machine and my lungs were full of blood and the only reason I’m not disabled now is because I was healthy and young.

“I was in a coma and it wasn’t until September that I came around. I have absolutely no memory of what was happening.

“I was being moved from ward to ward and nurses and doctors were coming up and hugging me and I was like ‘I don’t even know you’.

“Even my voice has changed now which is so weird ­— I hear my voice on videos in the past and I don’t even know who it is.”

Rachael grew up in Durban in South Africa but moved to Manchester when she was nine.

“I did suffer from racism and got called names and people would say I couldn’t go to America because I was terrorist,” she said. “I wasn’t the same and didn’t get the English culture and in South Africa you don’t start school until you are six so I was a little bit behind and then my dad died when I was 17.”

In 2016, Rachael began seeing Imraan Hasham, a 32-year-old company director, after they met in a Bolton nightclub, but she ended up living in fear when he cut her off from friends, demanded that she wore conservative clothing and broke her phone.

Hasham ­— who once fled Britain to Kenya after robbing a bank ­— became abusive in a bid to force the teenager into marriage.

In court, Rachael told how she was forced to keep the blinds closed when she was in the house so people wouldn’t look at her.

In April 2017, Hasham was given a 26-week jail sentence suspended for 18 months and was banned from contacting Rachael for two years under the terms of a restraining order.

Now Rachael, a former Sharples School student, is continuing her rehabilitation and is getting support from her mum at their home in Belmont.

“My mum has really been there for me and she cooks and cleans,” she said. “Even when I was in hospital when I couldn’t get up she would straighten my hair for me.

“People have done amazing things for me ­— I thought no one cared and even when I first woke up I thought I had been stolen and put in hospital and people were trying to torment me.”

Rachael, who was doing her apprenticeship at a nursery before her injuries, is now determined to let other people know that there is a way forward if they do feel similar to her.

“I want to people to think the only way is up,” she said. “You can progress and feel like you were better than you were yesterday.

“You should be happy in yourself and think that tomorrow will be better. I only wish I’d known that before.

“I would love to get back to work and I really want to finish my apprenticeship and eventually run my own nursery.

“At the moment I can’t pick up anything heavier than two litres so I can’t work but I am doing lots of physical rehab.”

The last few months have been difficult for Rachael with many of her face-to-face appointments and gym work cancelled.

“They only do phone appointments now so I have felt quite alone,” she added. “I am just trying to think positively and have been doing a lot of meditation. My head thinks a hundred things at once but meditation helps me ­— I put the music on and sit calmly and think about how I am breathing and how I am living.

“I felt down about everything and I don’t want others to think like that - there are people out there who can help.”

n Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year, providing a safe place to talk for anyone who is struggling to cope. Call 116 123, 01204 521200 or email jo@samaritans.org