Simon's Story | Youth Insearch


Tue, 21/04/2020 - 10:30


Stories, Virtual World

Simon is one of our amazing Leaders, having attended 28 workshops since 2016, and after overcoming a lifetime of trauma and personal challenges is today making Youth Insearch what it strives to be – support and empowerment for young people.

Through the forced introduction Virtual Support Groups (VSGs) we have seen a great impact for not only our participants, but our young Leaders as well. VSGs are a blessing in disguise for many.

When asked about Virtual Support Groups, Simon says…

The virtual support groups have been a game changer in the way that we are able to communicate within Youth Insearch.

It has given me the ability to be able to be a part of a support group well beyond my normal reach, which has then given me the opportunity to make new connections and build rapport with a group I wouldn’t otherwise have gotten the chance to do.

It has also allowed me to be able to communicate with other leaders and then connect in with my regular support group and have also given me more time as I spend less time traveling.

Through the groups I am learning more in regards to keeping connected in a time when face to face connection is no longer a possibility, as well as a different way in which to support people when times are challenging and when getting support is harder than it was previously.

I am learning so much from just sitting back and watching the coordinators run the support groups and picking up tips and tricks for when things go back to some normality. These few things are very helpful, not only now but they are skills I can then transfer into the future.

The virtual support groups are keeping me connected and allowing some normality in a time when things are constantly changing they also are making me feel less isolated as someone who does live alone I look forward to support groups each week.

It is a time for me to reflect on my week and possibly share my wisdom with others. I am very aware that this is something that we don’t do on our own and there are other people in a similar boat and supporting just one person may seem small but it can mean the world to them and me.

This is why virtual support groups are something that is giving me the ability to stay connected and showing out participants that it’s okay and we can get through this together.

Simon’s Story

While growing up I was sexually assaulted, from the age of 6 to 10 years, by someone I trusted and who lived just down the road from me. Following that, I had issues with my family because of what was going on. By the time I was 13, I had started going to a counsellor as I was suffering with depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicidal ideation.

At the age of 15, I was being treated like a sex slave by some of the boys at school. Although I knew it was wrong, I did it to protect my friends and my younger sister. This abuse continued for about 6 months. Towards the end of it, my older sister went off the rails and got into the drug and alcohol scene which she began to blame on me. This led to my first hospital admission due to self-harm, and within a week of going home, I was again admitted because of the same reason.

During this time, I started being groomed from people I had met on the internet which led to another hospital admission in a Mental Health Ward. At the age of 16, I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. After this diagnosis, my mental health severely declined, and I was constantly being suspended from school for self-harm. Over the next year things got even worse as I had multiple admissions to several Mental Health Hospitals.  

At the age of 17, I had finally been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and was having weekly planned hospital admissions.

I became homeless in May 2014 and spent three months in a shelter. I left home because while I had all of this going on, I was being emotionally abused by all my family and friends. They explained it away as I was like a stranger in my own home.

After the shelter, I moved to an extended Mental Health Rehabilitation Program. Whilst I was living there, I came out as being transgender and had to fight for them to call me by my preferred name instead of my original name. They went on to tell me that I had to set up a meeting just so I could be called the name that I preferred and to be recognised for who I wanted to be. After a while I began to not answer to the name they were calling me as that was not who I identified as. Following a long battle, they reluctantly changed my name on the board to what I wanted to be known as. 

By the time I had finished in the Adolescent Mental Health, I had over 40 hospital admissions and was moving around as I didnt have somewhere stable until I eventually linked in with the Brisbane Youth Services. The Red Cross Night Café in Brisbane which is where I first heard of Youth Insearch.

I was then referred to Jennie Linton who convinced me to attend my first weekend workshop where I met the Queensland Coordinator, who supported me as well as other friends Ive made along the way. 

After my first program in 2016, I got so much out of it that I returned, and it was at the end of my third program that I realised that I really wanted to become a Youth Insearch Leader. I wanted to support other young people like me as I was support through my journey with Youth Insearch. 

I have ended up needing 5 surgeries for self-inflicted injuries, but I am now free from self-harm and I know how and where to get the support when I need it.

In 2018 I became a Leader after I did the Leaders Training in 2017, and I have been given the opportunity to support others and be a part of their journey.

All I can say is that without Youth Insearch I dont know how far in life I would have gotten or even if I would still be alive. Youth Insearch saved my life.