Things started to go wrong for me when I was about 7. I was getting into trouble at school – like walking out of the classroom and not listening. I didn’t know why I was doing it, and most of my teachers thought I was just disruptive. I remember feeling really bad about it but I couldn’t stop myself. Nobody asked about my feelings or tried to talk to me. I changed schools a lot and found it hard to make friends.
My family life wasn’t settled or happy, but I just seemed to make it worse – without meaning to. My mum basically thought that I was the black sheep of the family. So even at home I kept my unhappiness bottled up and didn’t talk.
When I was 9 I decided to move in with my dad, which turned out to be a bad move as he beat me up. I also started at a new school. They were wary of me because of my previous record and soon I was in the same pattern as before. It got to the point that I was blamed for everything that went wrong in the school whether I was there or not. I started to get really depressed and felt really guilty. I even thought about suicide.
In the end I moved back in with my mum, moved schools, and the same thing happened all over again. I started to self harm. And for a short time it was a relief – a way of expressing how I felt. Round this time I ended up in a school for people with behavioural problems and then a live-in clinic for people with mental health problems, where at first they diagnosed me with clinical depression. The truth is, even when I was talking to the psychiatrists I still wasn’t upfront about my feelings. By that point I was just worried about making trouble and getting the blame. Finally I was given a diagnosis of schizophrenia, but they’re still not quite sure.
Over time, things have got better. Now I do feel I can talk about my feelings more. But I still self harm and there’s a long way to go. I suppose I find it hard to accept help. I want to get better on my own.
When I look back I realise I’ve had a lot of stick from people. If you act different you get labelled and people make you into a scapegoat. I’ve been bullied quite a lot and been called loads of names – ‘nutty’, ‘psycho’. At one school I was told that I needed to be ‘put down’.
I’m really trying to work on my self respect though. I’m doing a GCSE in psychology, and I’m part of this group that tries to get local services to really listen to their clients. I feel like I’m finally getting somewhere. But I still keep my distance from people. I’m still scared of getting hurt – or of hurting people by holding back.