AJ's story. 'I had a life that's been taken away from me.'

Content warning: This story contains references to self-harm and child abuse.

‘I’ve been in and out of hostels and care homes the majority of my life. I was in hospital for two years with broken bones from the abuse. When I was taken away, I stayed in a nunnery for a while. I just remember the huge doors frightened me and I wanted to get away. Since then I was past from pillar to post. I self-harmed a lot.

At nineteen I decided I wanted to find my real mother again. I wanted to take her shopping, I wanted to do her washing, I wanted to do the dishes for her; take her out for a meal, things like that. But it was nothing like I expected. I tried to prepare mentally for it. I thought it would either make or break me, and it broke me. I think she felt guilty for what she had done to me, but I realised she wasn’t my mother at all.

I had no other family, but there have been good times since then.I was a qualified riding instructor once. I knew all about stable management and looking after the horses. I even qualified to work in building construction, but I started to become really mentally ill. I ended up in and out of hospital for five and half years. I’m better now, but I was on a lot of meds for a long time. I’m surprised I’m still standing.

I’ve been in this hostel seven times now. Before this time the council had found me a privately rented bedsit, but it was infested, and there was damp and mould everywhere. The windows were falling apart. Even some of the doors were on upside down. Environmental health came out three times to check it, but the landlord wasn’t prepared to pay the money to make it habitable, so he just gave me an eviction notice. I ended up back in hospital because of the stress. I’m actually much happier here now. I have my own room, and at least I’m not alone anymore. The staff here are fantastic. They know me and they’re really nice. 

I always try to make where I stay homely with bright things and teddy bears, because I haven’t had any love all my life. I lived in supported accommodation for about a year and a half before, but I didn’t get the right support. They would only come when it suited them, and in the end, they just shut me out. My psychiatric nurse left because I was getting better, but when there’s no support I get scared of what’s outside. Now I don’t really get any support at all. 

It’s wrecked my life being ill. I hate it, but it’s just because of the way I’ve been treated. I had a life that’s been take away from me. What I really want is a secure, clean place, with a decent bathroom you can actually use. With nice people that don’t take drugs. I don’t want to live in a rough place away from everyone I know. I don’t want to be lonely again. They set limits on how long you can stay here so I don’t know what will happen in the future, but for now, I like it, so this is my home.”

AJ, Cardiff.

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