Andreas Ängvreten, Stockholm, Sweden

I am 22 years old and come from an ordinary urban community in the North of Stockholm. I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder at the age of 8 and was severely bullied throughout my time at school. I come from a dysfunctional family that looked fine on the surface to others. However, my father suffered with extreme alcoholism and untreated personality disorders and I was subjected to his regular physical outbursts of violence. Whilst my mother who also drank excessive amounts of alcohol and was addicted to unhealthy eating lived a chaotic lifestyle which left me feeling insecure and severely traumatised.

As a child I could be impulsive, at times reckless and aggressive in the way that I behaved, which was as a consequence of my extremely high stress levels. My mother gave me high doses of toxic medication, as she saw this as a solution to managing my behaviour. I found it difficult relating to others and was seen in a negative way by my neighbours who all thought that I was crazy because of the way my family spoke about me. All of these things left me with battered confidence and low self-esteem.

As a young person I used to cycle as a way in which to manage my anxiety and would ride my bike for 3 or 4 hours every day in order to help calm my agitated, restless mind. When I grew up and got my own apartment I made a decision to help myself and look at the mental challenges that I was facing in my day to day life. There were times when I felt suicidal and wanted to end my life. Now life feels different and I use acceptance as a tool in which to combat my feelings, emotions and mental torment.

Today my life is brighter than I ever could have imagined and I am doing things that I love; such as playing music and supporting others who have lost their way in life. I do this work through an organisation called ‘Svagstark’ which means ‘Weak Strong’ in Swedish.

I want to inspire other people with my story to help them see that life can always get better. My story illustrates that no matter how horrific life can feel you can make changes and improve life by working hard to understand and accept yourself. I recognise that in order to change and make life how you want it, you have to be the person that makes that change. You can gain the support from others but it is you that does the work and you that can ultimately improve your life situation. Never give up on yourself and I promise you from the depth of my heart that you will get there.

Do your best and don’t lose faith. The change will involve a massive amount of hard work and focus but I just know that you can do it!