Dexter, 17, London
Dexter, a young transgender man, has struggled with mental health difficulties since he was 10-years-old. It was hard for his family to accept and, struggling to cope with his mental health difficulties on his own, Dexter self-harmed.
At 15-years-old, he moved to London where his dad managed to get him help through Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). He was diagnosed with depression, anxiety, social anxiety, dissociative identity disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He was admitted to hospital twice to help him manage his mental health difficulties but ended up homeless afterwards and now lives at a YMCA in London. He is now back in education and is hoping to go to university next year. Below he tells #IAMWHOLE in his own words what he went through and what can be done to help more young people…
From about the age of eight onwards a lot of things happened, there were a lot of very dramatic changes in my life in regards to losing people, moving and relationships. Things just took a very drastic turn.
But no one really took into consideration how it mentally affected me.
As I was going through like primary school and secondary school I got bullied a lot. I started suffering from really bad social anxiety as well as symptoms of depression. My grades started dropping and I became reclusive and I isolated myself. I became very hostile towards a lot of people and I would become extremely defensive, though I guess bullying does that to people.
When it came out that I was self-harming it was a massive family dispute. I got temporarily kicked out for it because it came out that I was hurting myself. It suddenly became a massive thing that I was a threat to other kids. I had to go and live with the neighbour for about a week until my step-dad calmed down.
When I moved to London I started getting a lot more support. My dad was an absolute angel and managed to get me into CAMHS. When I was living in Derbyshire the school tried to support me, they did try, but I just don’t think they understood. They were focusing more on what was happening rather than why it was happening.
Everything just becomes so much more extreme. The littlest of things become a battle. It just stops you being able to live, especially when people don’t understand.
If you don’t understand something of course you’re going to be scared of it. It’s why bullying happens. It’s why stigmas are created about people. A lot of the time people say things because they don’t understand and they want to make it seem like they do, but in reality they have no idea.
The staff here at YMCA, I can come downstairs and they’ll sit in the office with me. If something’s happened they’ll get an ambulance out. They are absolutely brilliant here. Whereas people I know haven’t got any of that.
To young people who are dealing with mental health difficulties I want to say: Don’t be scared. Never be scared. No matter what the hell is going through your head, no matter what you see, not matter what you’ve been through, you are standing here today. The fact that you are standing here today is what matters. You can go through hell, but the bravest and strongest people I know are the people who have carried on when all they’ve wanted to do is give up.
You feel like you are going to give up sometimes, but don’t. You’ve got this far, you can go the whole bloody way.
Hope is so much stronger than fear. You’ve got to remember that it is always darkest just before the dawn.
It doesn’t matter how dark or crap life gets, there is always going to be a reason to keep going. It’s just about finding that reason.
- If you are looking for mental health services, visit the Find Get Give directory. Services are being added to Find Get Give on a regular basis but if you can’t find a service near you, check out the help guides and national helplines in the advice section.
- Read out more about what YMCA’s I AM WHOLE research discovered.