Am I not deserving of a forever family?

people holding handsGrowing up in surroundings so mental health and trauma based, I used to ask myself what is this for? Yes, I am getting treatment for a diagnosis that I had and I couldn’t help, but I still think about how my entire childhood and adolescent years had been taken up by trauma, negativity, and struggle. I had to stop and ask myself, “What can I do? What can I do to make up for all this lost time?”

I found myself struggling to find any sort of redemption for actions I made and events I caused in the midst of my self-destruction, and trying to rekindle the once pure connection with those who cared for me. This is how I turned the trauma that destroyed me into something that made me.

I would consider myself being in the childcare system and behavioral health system since the age of 3 and a half, maybe 4 years old. Nothing was ever handed to me. I worked hard for acceptance, love, and attention; somethings that should have been a given to a young child yet I still could never quite grasp. Even though I was placed in a family does not mean I received love and attention. Just because I was placed in residential does not mean I received the help I needed.

Growing up was a struggle for me. There were days I asked myself, “What am I doing wrong? Am I not deserving of a forever family? Was I not strong enough to defeat depression?” My nine year old self thought, “Would people finally look at me when my picture is placed in a big frame memorializing me for the years I lived, and mourning me for the years I could not have?” Yes, I was nine years old when suicide first crossed my mind. I had lost everything most important to a child for the second time. I lost a mother, my brothers, my home, my beliefs, and my trust for any and all adults.

Flash forward to my adolescent years when I struggled through programs even more than I could have imagined. I was 14 years old with so much potential but completely blind to it. I was struggling with depression, PTSD, substances, and anger. I made many mistakes as any teenager does, but my mistakes were a self- destructive engine that would soon kill me. It wasn’t until I hit the age of 17 that I was able to recover enough to function in reality on my own.

I learned a lot in my years of struggle and recovery, including the need for advocacy and support from relatable people who know and have lived through the system of childcare and residential. I also believe that no matter what struggle one goes through in life, there is never “a reason” to stop fighting the struggle. What I mean by this is if something negative happens in your life, do not give it the power to “steal” those valuable and precious good moments of your life. Turn it into a situation where the negative moment was there to help you learn and guide you on a path to an evolved “YOU.”

In my case, I did not let my parent-less childhood and 10 years of residential experiences steal my childhood and adolescent years. I let it teach me how to support and care for youth and young adults who are struggling through the same or similar experiences, and help guide them to success and happiness using the strength and knowledge gained through my firsthand experience. I was not going to let my past destruction destruct my future self, and so I let my past destruction be the knowledge I gained to make me who I am. Today, I am someone who cares, loves, understands, empathizes with others, and support those who need it.

Mateo Anderson is a young adult whose focus is on supporting and advocating for youth and families of mental health. He is currently working in the peer support field. 

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One thought on “Am I not deserving of a forever family?

  1. Keep going! Amazing blog with important messages! YOU matter. The road of life brought you to a place to help many. I appreciate my connection with you.

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