Hi, My name is Emily, otherwise known as Emily#0386 on the Discord server (which you should totally join if you’re not already part of!), and I’m a moderator and tech support person, and the webmaster. My story is quite a long one – for the past five years of my life, I’ve been suffering with mental health issues.
I moved to the UK at the age of five from Poland, which already put me at a disadvantage – I was late to primary school, which means I didn’t get along with anyone, and I didn’t know the language fluently enough until next year after that. My parents worked incredibly long days and the parenting was left to my auntie – so by the time they got round to resolving this aspect, it was a few years later. This meant that, the crucial bond between me and my parents was already lost. I joined an online Minecraft community, which was a very abusive online friendship circle, one that actively put me as a scapegoat, an object which abuse can be thrown at which wasn’t healthy for me. But by that point, I alienated everyone in real life. I kept at it for two years, I tried leaving them, only to come back to them because I had no one else. I was trapped. My only friends, who may I add were older than me and should have been way more mature, were doing such things.
Secondary school came, and I thankfully restored some sanity – I began to talk to people more, but I mostly buried my head in technology – I didn’t talk to my parents for years, a fact that they still don’t understand why that was the case. During this time, that’s when the physical abuse really started. Shit getting thrown around, masking it from one parent at a time. A particular memory of mine that I still vividly remember from this time period and that haunts me today was when my father began to smash stuff around the house, including a router. To this day, if someone in the neighbouring flats opens a cupboard door or something similar, that can set my anxiety off massively to the point where I literally start shaking. This was especially difficult when my father started drinking… (I suspect he has some kind of severe depression, which would make sense). My mother was especially difficult, as she mostly was emotionally abusive – she did things for her own personal gain – if it didn’t go her way, she’d literally throw toddler tantrums, and start kicking off – how the hell is one supposed to deal with this? Especially as a child at the age of 15. Another example I can give you is when I refused to go on holiday to work as slave labour essentially, and the line ‘you are ruining my holiday’ was given. Now, imagine that manipulative line being applied to every aspect of life. That, and the fact that when arguments got heated, I would usually get hit quite hard. When I tried to fight back (you need to remember that I was a child, and not one with violent tendencies) it was a case of ‘YOU HIT ME, HOW DARE YOU HIT YOUR MOTHER’. Let’s just ignore what you just did, eh? For years, I thought that this just how normal people are – they’re supposed to be dragging you down every day, telling you that you’re not good enough no matter how much you try, exploiting every opportunity to tell you just how shit you are, for their own personal gain. For years, I had no escape.
My mental health really started going downhill at GCSEs, where I witnessed an undisclosed traumatic event which caused basically clinical depression. I should have went through mental health treatment at this point, but a psychologist was referred to as being a ‘doctor for idiots like you’, so I tried to knuckle down and get through my exams. As this happened to the lead up to my exams, it wasn’t too difficult. I eventually ended up achieving an A*, mostly As and Bs. …but it all went downhill at A-Levels. That’s really when I started to deteriorate. I started getting panic attacks, having to lie down in the middle of class to let it pass. I was really struggling with the workload – I was predicted not to pass a single one of my subjects. My AS-Level results yielded a D in AS-Level Maths…
…and it became worse. The violence in my household became such an issue that my friends actually started noticing these things. I honestly thought I was going to get kicked out of my household or something awful would happen to me, so I started saving up money. I started looking up how the benefits system worked. Eventually, I had a major event. You see, my parents wanted to go back to Poland, in their delusional plans. They wanted me to go to a Polish university, and live in a tiny box what they deemed their flat. Obviously, that wasn’t gonna fly with me. I started filling in UCAS forms in secret to apply for my university. I was still failing my A-Levels, but with high enough predictions, hard work and a strong personal statement, I figured that I may as well try… at most I would lose £20 for applying, which was nothing. I ended up getting all five offers from universities, which I narrowed down to two. But at this point, with my mother reading my bank statements, she became suspicious. How dare he do what he wants to do? I successfully played this off by a lie of ‘it’s an administrative cost’, which I wasn’t proud of lying about, but lying became a common occurrence by this point because I was scared to see what they would do if I told the truth (later, I was told that if they knew about this plan, I wouldn’t be put through Sixth Form education). Then one night, I invited my sister round to visit. We worked out exactly how to drop the fact into conversation. And boy, it resulted in Chernobyl. It was well and truly DEFCON 1. I ended up leaving for the night for an event, but the next day the situation escalated so quickly that the police had to become involved.
…that’s how I ended up homeless. I fled for my safety to my friend’s house, to stay there until I could apply for supported housing. Amongst a load of legal paperwork that I had to fill out, I was actually not eligible because my diagnosis of autism was not present at the time, and I was not considered priority. As a result, I ended up sofa surfing, and in temporary accommodation for two months. My school thankfully were very supportive and tried to help out financially and in terms of helping me sort out a place to live. Finally, I found a place. I was in, I was learning how to live on my own, which was no easy feat – having to learn how to cook, how to look after oneself (which I still struggle with), how to budget… things you normally don’t think about. It was difficult as hell, resulting in many difficult nights, but thankfully with the help with a newly made friend and staff it was made easier. By this point, as you can imagine my mental health went completely off the charts. I self-harmed, by cutting myself. I overdosed. I attempted to jump off a building. I stood in the middle of the motorway, waiting for someone to hit me. I was put on SSRIs, which did nothing to help, and in the case of Setraline, actually made my manic episodes worse. I was diagnosed for Autism in April 2018, a horrendously late diagnosis to make. I went into smoking, alcohol and drug issues at this point too, in order to numb the pain…
Results day came, and it was the bearer of bad news. I received an ABC, whereas I needed an ABB or higher to go to my university. Fortunately, my university offered me a foundation year, which I am now on. I moved into halls with the help of my Support Worker. I am now as far away as possible from my parents, and I’m still really good friends with the friend which I made in my old area. Finally, I was able to see a psychiatrist about my mental health (which was not possible in the old area), and I was prescribed antipsychotics. I am also being referred for possible ADHD, as well as a load of other resources to look after me. I also figured out that I was gender dysphoric, and now I’m going through a very slow transition period. I’m Emily! Overall, I’d say I’m coping a bit better than at my worst times. I’m in recovery when it comes to the ‘coping strategies’ that I developed, and the ones that were outright dangerous to me, I actively do not do anymore. Certainly, getting to university from all that was no easy feat – at times, it was literally impossible. But if I was to give a take home message, is that recovery is possible. It may take years, it may literally try to kill you, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. You’ll be permanently scarred, but you can learn how to deal with these scars, and live a successful life. It’s possible. Sometimes, drastic change in your life is necessary, like in my case, in order to make that happen. It took 18 years to for it to happen.