IAMWHOLE

Young, hungry, fat, broke and homeless, my mental state was at a real all time low; I was extremely depressed and had nowhere to live.

Rob Chase

As a very young child I thought it was fun to misbehave in school and always disrupt the lessons. I was the class clown and I would do anything to get a few laughs. Eventually I was excluded from Redbridge Community School, so I enrolled at the Compass School where I never attended a single full day of school. 

I soon found myself hanging around with crowds much older than me; I looked up to my older mates and wanted to be like them.  Before long, I found myself out most nights consuming a cocktail of drugs.  Without realising it, I had become addicted to anything from pills and cocaine to speed and ketamine.  I hated feeling sober as life was so much better under the influence.  Soon enough, I found myself at 14 out late at night stealing anything that wasn’t bolted down to pay for my drug fuelled lifestyle. Looking back, the amount of drugs I consumed at such an early age make me realise I’m lucky to still have a fully functioning body. After a while, the drugs started to affect me in a way I didn’t think possible. As my mental state began to deteriorate, my family noticed something wasn’t quite right.  On the outside, I looked like a normal young boy but it wasn’t the case.

I was in a drug induced psychotic episode commonly referred to as psychosis and was later diagnosed with bi-polar disorder. I often had delusions, weird thoughts, strong emotional connections and strange ways to connect my thoughts brought on by sever drug dosages and high levels of stress.

On December 3rd 2014 I was sectioned on a Section 2 under the Mental Health Act – I was just 15. When they told me, I immediately put up a fight and even ended up headbutting the doctor who sectioned me and spitting over my family as they had to take me away in handcuffs. I found myself at Hunter-Coombe Hospital in Maidenhead, where for 7 months I took my meds and ate a lot. I didn’t get any GCSEs as I was in hospital at the time I was supposed to be sitting them.

When I was released in June 2015, I was not the same person. My mental state had improved, however I was now 16 and weighed 19 stone. This brought on a new struggle; I felt anxious and self-conscious about going out into the world. I was frightened of what others thought of me, if they would laugh at how fat I had become and I was scared to work because I thought people would mock me for my size. I found it hard to do basic tasks like hoovering up, I was constantly out of breath and I was embarrassed to be me. I sometimes had suicidal thoughts, but I overcame them and started to go out again. But before I knew it though, I started smoking cannabis again and got myself into some big debts. I didn’t like to be sober, I would smoke a joint and feel better about myself for 10 minutes, but then I would need another one.

My mum had decided enough was enough and kicked me out. Young, hungry, fat, broke and homeless, my mental state was at a real all time low; I was extremely depressed and had nowhere to live. I crashed on my aunt’s sofa, she didn’t have much food in her freezers but she said I could have whatever I wanted.

One morning, I woke up to a message on my Facebook wall from my dad telling me he had disowned me and no longer wanted anything to do with me. I reminded him that he hadn’t been there for any of my struggles and hadn’t been much of a father figure to me.  After I replied, I was angry and for 2 hours smashed a punch bag; eventually my hands were drenched in blood and my face drenched in tears. I decided to start running with only two pairs of shoes to my name, ending up running through both of them.

I eventually moved into the YMCA in Southampton, which provided supported housing accommodation. I had found a place where I could focus on myself and paid off all my debts. I am slowly starting to get my life on track and I have lost all 6 stone that I’d put on. Today I’m proud of who I am and can say that I am glad to have gone through what I went through to get where I am today. Parts of my life make me cringe, but without all the embarrassment and all the struggle my head would not be as clear minded and stable as it is today.

There was a quote on the wall in the mental hospital that I will remember for the rest of my life.

“It’s not about waiting for the storm to pass, its about learning to dance in the rain”

Life’s not fair and you will fail more times then you will succeed, but it’s our failures that give us our strength. It is better to make a mistake that humbles you rather than an achievement which makes you arrogant.  Whatever your goal, whatever your struggle, never ever give up and if you lose your hope and you lose your pride, then you’d better find it again.

Embrace the struggle.