Hi, my name is Kyle and I’m a Sports & Social Coordinator for the Forum. I live in Dorset with my partner and two young boys. Football is my go-to happy place as you will learn below!
My story starts back in my childhood. My parents separated when I was two and my dad wasn’t in my life much from that point. When he was around, we clashed. There was a level of violence from him and my mum’s subsequent partners.
I was diagnosed at a young age with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder which then got changed to Pervasive Developmental Disorder (now known as an Autism Spectrum Disorder). Looking back now, I didn’t get the specialised level of support needed for my behaviour and temper. No one understood my extreme aggression and my family found it hard to cope with me, especially my mum who was disabled and had her own health needs. I ended up in and out of care and going from school to school, which has had a significant impact on me. I then started at a boarding school that specialised in behaviour disorders which helped me get some support and enabled me to go back to live at home.
As is often the case in circumstances like mine, the situation was not sustainable, and I found myself homeless at 15. It was as a result of these conditions that my mental health really began to decline. After six months, a woman saw me sleeping rough and helped me find a place to live in supported housing.
A year later, I joined the Forces with the aim of doing something more positive. The Army was like another family and it was all I ever wanted. This was the best thing that ever happened to me; I made great friends, got to visit some amazing countries and do great work. It taught me that getting out and about, doing something positive is not only good physically but mentally. You could put all the energy you build up from fears, anxiety or stress into another activity.
Unfortunately, my mum’s health suddenly declined, and I had to leave the Army to become her full-time carer. After a while I found myself back in the same supported accommodation but unlike before, this time I took up any activity offered. Football, cooking, trips abroad. I realised there was a positive channel you can tap into with guidance of others. Even now I say football is the one thing that has kept me going with my mental health – I play nearly every day and it’s my time away from everyone else to escape into my own world and put my all into the game.
My life once again turned upside down when I lost my job, couldn’t pay my rent, and ended up homeless. I felt that everything I had achieved went in the click of a finger. This was one of my lowest times and things became hopeless for a while leaving me to contemplate if my life was worth living. I accessed Mental Health Services during this time and although they provided some support, my Recovery was very much down to me. Eventually I ended up back in supported accommodation and jumped on taking part in activities again. I was asked if I wanted to start running groups for them, acting as a resident liaison. I then began my journey of working with and supporting others.
I’m now a manager, having worked my way up through the Forum from just attending our sports and social sessions to becoming a peer. I got to meet new people, listen to people’s stories, share my own story, and sometimes just have a good old laugh. Now, being able to help others who have a situation like mine or worse is the icing on the cake for me.
If I could speak to young Kyle I would say don’t change a thing. Life is hard but you can fight every channel and you can win. It’s all about that fight, if you push yourself you can get to be where you want to be. And, listen to the people around you!
It’s the story you can tell and the journey you’ve made that makes your life great.