When I was 14, I was referred to CAMHS for support. At the time, I was self-harming physically and through unhealthy behaviours. I was in and out of hospital and police stations. I was a mess but I think it was because I’d been through so much up until that point.

My life started to go downhill when my nine-year foster placement broke down. The family said they didn’t feel like they could keep me safe. As a foster kid, you know you’re going to be moved eventually - it’s just the way things are – but it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with when it actually happens. 

After the placement broke down, I ended up being moved from foster home to foster home and then went into residential care. When I moved into my final residential care home, a lot of my unhealthy behaviours stopped, but that didn’t mean my mental health improved.  

I used to struggle with sleep – once staying up for 70 hours and hallucinating. I was constantly paranoid that my family were going to die or that my tap water was spiked. I stopped eating and my hair began to fall out. I would forget entire conversations within half an hour of having them and could talk for hours about something random like a coffee mug but make no sense at all. I even got lost in my own street.

Through all of the years that this had been happening in my life, no one recognised that I needed help. I felt like people were looking at me, but nobody saw the real me.  Until Ann. Ann became my Support Worker when I arrived at my local End Youth Homelessness charity, Llamau. Ann immediately recognised that I needed help with my mental health and because of that I received a diagnosis.  The day I was diagnosed with disassociation disorder, my entire life changed. I was so happy someone could finally tell me ‘you are alright; you are not losing your mind.’

Since that day, I’ve been like a different person. My identity has changed because I now feel good enough and have the self-confidence to be the person I truly am. My relationships have improved because of it and I have a great support circle around me.

I love living with Llamau. Here I have my own little flat where everything is mine. Having my own space has taught me I can live independently even though I’m only young. Even doing my own dishes makes me feel good about myself and what I’ve achieved. If Llamau hadn’t come into my life when they did, I wouldn’t have got the mental health support I needed and I don’t know where I’d be. I do know that I wouldn’t be sat here today feeling as happy, safe and secure as I do right now.

*Name and image changed to protect identity.