Demi, 16, attends Aberlour Youthpoint in Moray where she is now a peer mentor, helping other young people. Youthpoint is an example of an early intervention service, which takes action as problems are emerging, to prevent long term poor outcomes for children and young people. Here she tells her story.
I first started having suicidal thoughts when I was eight. That’s also when I first came to know Aberlour Youthpoint, the service was helping my brother, but I had no intention of coming myself.
I made myself seem really happy on the outside. Too happy for how I was really feeling. No-one saw because everyone was so focused on my brother. My mum had a lot on her plate because she had him to deal with. He had mental health problems but hadn’t been diagnosed at that point. He was also drinking and taking cannabis. I thought she had enough on her plate.
By the time I was 12, I had a new baby sister and mum wasn’t coping very well. I felt like I was an autopilot. My mental health didn’t matter. All I kept thinking was ‘I’m not trying hard enough’ or ‘mum doesn’t love me enough, because I’m not doing all that I should’. So I kept my feelings a secret until I was 12. That’s when I came here and everyone saw what I was really like.
My brother was being helped by Anne, a young people’s worker at Youthpoint. She got to know our family and could tell that I needed help. Then my sister and I were referred too.
At Youthpoint I started to open up and feel better, but then my stepdad just left. My mum slipped into depression. Some days she couldn’t get out of bed. This sounds creepy, but I used to go into her room and watch her breathing, just to make sure she was OK.
I had to look after my two year old sister and my other sister. I felt like I had to make sure my brother didn’t go off on a tangent, and I was also making sure the house was OK, by doing the cooking and cleaning. Even with all that, I still managed to get top grades at school. The school didn’t see I was struggling and neither did mum, she was so blinded by her own pain.
She did manage to haul herself out of that and she went to a parenting group at the service and things started to calm down. Then I tried to commit suicide because it all got too much. I don’t recommend it. The hospital makes you drink charcoal and it makes you really sick. It was horrible.
I was coming to Youthpoint but still hadn’t opened up. I felt I needed to protect my family. I still didn’t realise at that point that this was a place you could come and tell them anything. They would only want to help me.
After that, I told them everything.
The support here has helped my whole family. Before you could walk in and feel the hostility, but now it’s calmer. My mum has learned to stand up for herself. My little sister is going into primary two now, and thankfully she was too young and innocent to remember the bad times.
I started going on training courses to become a mentor myself because I want to help others. I want to be someone that is so positive, because I was so negative in my life before. Hopefully I’ll go to college to get an HNC in social care and one day I can be a youth worker too and help others, the way I’ve been helped.