Mental wellbeing for young people

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Finding family

Starr, 16 photo Starr, 16 · 10 Sept, 2020

Starr tells the story of losing her family in a car accident and what is has meant to find other people to love and trust.

My name is Starr and I'm 16. I really enjoy art and trying new things.

I would say I had a pretty average life till 2019. I lived with both my parents and my older brother. I was really close to my brother and he was my best friend. He taught me to play basketball, we would play for hours and my brother was always there for me.

In August 2019 it all changed so fast. People always told me that things can change completely at any minute but I never really took that on board until it happened. I was with my family and there was a car crash. I was the only survivor and I lost both my legs. I then spent some time in hospital and it was an incredibly hard time for me – I started self-harming and was diagnosed with an eating disorder.

I was meant to then live with my grandad but he didn't feel like he could manage everything, and so I had no-one left in my family to look after me.

Until I met my foster family and things started to look up. They have been amazing since day one and very understanding. I have been in and out of hospital a lot since the accident and currently still am. But during this time my foster family became my family as they adopted me. This was what gave me strength - knowing I had a place to call home and people that loved me. I have a second chance of a family.

I now have a little brother who means the world to me - he is always begging me to let him sit with me in my wheelchair or if I'm in hospital he is always at the end of the phone talk to me. My brother gives me the strength to keep fighting, all I have to do is think about him and I instantly have a smile on my face. Whenever he visits me in hospital he takes up all the time so I don't see my foster parents and they have to bribe him with chocolate to leave, which is always fun to watch.

Recently before going back into hospital my foster family redecorated my room with monkey bars and different things to help me move around my room on my own and make me feel more at home.

Something that has helped me is that whilst I am in hospital and even when I'm not I keep a box, which I call my safety box close to me. In my safety box I keep things like pictures of my family and foster family, I have paper and pencil to draw (this helps when I can't explain in words how I feel so I draw it out instead). I also keep my favourite strawberry scented teddy bear because who doesn't like a Teddy bear to snuggle, and I also keep a cheap old ipod shuffle with my favourite music on it this helps soothe me.

Back when all this started I was close with my social worker. It made a huge difference that I could talk to her. She was the first person I talked to about my self-harming, she then helped me to sign up for Alumina, which was a really quick and non-stressful form.

After I signed up there were a few emails back and forth which eased my anxiety of joining. Yes, the first time I joined it was extremely nerve-wracking but within minutes I found myself feeling more comfortable and able to interact.

Throughout this journey since 2019 I have been supported by Jenny, who runs Alumina. Without the support of the groups - especially the drop-ins and Jenny - I would still be in a very dark place, but even when I feel alone in hospital I know I can drop Jenny an email or I have a drop-in during the week that, without a doubt, will bring a smile to my face.

The main thing I have learnt from Alumina and Jenny is that talking and reaching out for support is so important no matter how big or small the problem is.

Anyways that's my story and I wish whomever took the time to read this the best of luck with your journey x.


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