YMCA Mental Health Appeal
My childhood wasn’t the greatest. It started off pretty good – until my parents started to squabble and fight over things. So I just sat in my room all the time. I think that’s when my anxiety and depression started.
My parents divorced when I was about eight years old. I was passed from pillar to post quite a lot – changing schools and where I lived, frequently.
Later, I got the choice of living permanently with my Mum or my Dad. I chose my Mum, partly because she needed my help; she is disabled, and I could help round the house, as there was no-one else around.
But then when I was 15, I decided to go and live with my Dad.
Then the worst thing happened when I was only 20 – my Dad was murdered. My life just kind of crumbled after that.
I’d been in a relationship for three years – we were living together and engaged and everything. But my Dad’s death was very difficult for me, and for us both. I was tired and anxious all the time; we split up.
I had a decent job, but I had to make regular long journeys to attend a court case following my Dad’s death. It went on for weeks and weeks. So I had no choice but to quit my job.
I was also trying to sort things out with my step-mum and my Dad’s family, as they were all fighting over his money and his possessions.
I was still talking to my step-mum, and they didn’t like that at all. So they kicked me out. That’s when I was forced out on to the streets, sleeping in abandoned buildings, cold and hungry, occasionally kipping on an old school-mate’s sofa.
I went to the Council day after day, but it takes time for them to find you a place, meaning I was homeless for nearly four months. Eventually, they sent me to YMCA. It’s wicked. I couldn’t ask for a better place.
It was nice to be in my own cosy bed. But because I’ve been so used to sleeping on a sofa or a hard surface, the beds seem really uncomfortable.
I didn’t sleep well – I just hadn’t grieved properly for my Dad. I locked myself away in my room, 24/7. Emotionally, I was building up a very big wall.
YMCA’s counsellors helped me break down that wall. They gave me practical help, too, like money planning, food shopping, and things like that. They’ve given me a flat in here as well; I got that within the first month of being here, so it just goes to show if you can be a good person in these kind of places you do get some good things out of it.
My keyworker Donna was very warm and open; she looked at me as a real, individual person – not judging me.
As for the future, I’d like to keep on this path of finding myself, rather than trying to be someone else. I just want a family, a house and a dog. That’s all I want. More than that, one day I’d like to use my experiences to help other homeless young people with mental health difficulties.