Hi. I’m Freddie. I’m 18 years old. I’m often found with a cold cup of tea, eating biscuits and nattering a way to whoever will listen. I enjoy gaming, films, BBQ’s and often long walks in the nearby countryside of woods listening to the birds, it’s tranquil and relaxing.
Life hasn’t always been that for me, that’s a given for most as we go through the rocky pathway of life. In February 2014 myself and my best friend were involved in a collision with a drunk driver. I had very little impact physically but my friend, they lost their life at the scene of the accident. I was protected and supported at the roadside by the police and ambulance service until my parents arrived.
I felt an instant anger, how could this be? Wishing it was a bad dream. Flashing lights, sirens, police tape. I wanted to scream, I felt I was, I just couldn’t be heard because it was an internal scream of deep pain and trauma.
I felt vulnerable, I had survivor guilt, why my friend? Why not me? I was angry at the world too, I argued with parents, school become a place I struggled to learn in, I was either angry and lashing out or I was withdrawn, being alone, hiding from a world that felt heavy, sad and hurt.
Days after my mental health took a turn, I began self harming. Just over 10 days later I had my first hospital admittance after running a way from home, found by the police. The police officer seemed caring, soft and listened. I told him about my self harm, how low I felt and that I was struggling beyond comprehending words at that time, he stayed with me throughout my short A&E stay before I was referred to other long term pathways of support.
In early December 2019 I came across Alumina, nervous and scared, it had been years since my journey of self harm began, I almost felt at a point of this is it, for the rest of my life I’ll be self harming but I took the brave plunge to use the sign up sheet, answer a few questions and was put through to Jenny, the Alumina manager.
Jenny put me at ease instantly and listened to everything I wanted to share, she had hope in me and was engaging to make my alumina journey as comfortable as possible in which it was, it was difficult but it was a safe place without judgement.
I learnt new ways of coping, understanding my emotions, ways to pause and change negative thinking, how to speak in a small anonymous group, how self harm is not an instant recovery but takes time, patience, various different goes at alternatives and most importantly being ready to look at coping with life a way from self harm, being ready within myself and doing it for me.
Alumina showed me I was of worth to my own self, I was more than a self harm statistic, or an attention seeker and it was a painful cry of help when words failed to be found.
It’s now Summer of 2020, I’m still self harming but it has reduced, I have gone long stints of using alternatives, I’ve become stronger, my impulse has become calmer and I listen more to my own needs, I’m still in touch with Jenny, I’m a regular at drop ins and I’m also still saying “hello” to the police officer from those years a go.
You can be headstrong too. Together we can be headstrong.
You’ll get there, it may not be today or tomorrow and it could be years like myself but there is always a path to find, people to become your village and a light to shine on you.