Monique Newton's story: living with depression and self-harm
On Tuesday 19th June, I was lucky enough to be part of the BOND (Better Outcomes, New Delivery) launch at the House of Lords in Westminster. The campaign aims to provide early intervention and support in emerging emotional and mental health problems for children and young people. It is a campaign close to my heart as I have had to endure years of struggle and hospitalisation due to my deteriorating wellbeing and state of mind.
From the age of 10 upwards I have been at a constant war with myself, struggling with depression, which then spiralled into a whole range of other illnesses. My self hatred turned into paranoia which led to social anxiety and meant I soon became a recluse. As a result I used to self-harm as a way of escape. I felt alone and isolated from my peers and didn't know who to turn to for help.
Growing up was made hard by the fact I became estranged from my family when I was 15. I was kicked out of my family home and had no support network around me. I also had to deal with working, being in education and living on my own with little money to spare at such a young age.
This caused my mental health to plummet even further and eventually I made a failed suicide attempt as a last cry for help, and was admitted to the Priory Hospital where I spent seven months on the child and adolescent psychiatric ward.
Being admitted to the Priory Hospital was the turning point in my life as I was able to have the time and help I needed in order to get my health back on track. I was referred to several charities and services who each proved vital towards my recovery and rehabilitation. I had a Barnardo's worker who was there to help me come to terms with some of the things that had happened to me in my past, I was allocated a social worker and I had a therapist from CAMHS (child and adolescent mental health services).
All of these services as well as the help and care I received from the Priory meant I was able to get back on my feet and have the security of having that support network around me who were there to catch me if I fell. I was also referred to centrepoint who continued to look after my emotional and physical well being in one of their high support hostels.
My time in hospital prompted me to take up powerlifting as I wanted something that would not only provide physical benefits but I wanted to test my new-found mental strength and see how far I had come. I find doing sport now helps me find a positive way to channel my emotions and keeps my head strong.
And since taking up the sport I have managed to become the two-times world champion in my weight division, and break numerous British and European records. I have no doubt - I wouldn't have been able to achieve any of this if it wasn't for the support from all the services who were involved in my care, who gave me the confidence and self-belief to push myself.
One of the reasons I welcome the launch of the BOND programme is because I know just how important it is to get help early on, I have seen and experienced first-hand just how quickly things can spiral out of control if left without any help or support. When I was midway through my depression I went to my school for help but was turned away because they simply did not know how to handle the problem or what help to offer me. I strongly believe if I had the support and understanding needed it could have prevented the struggles I later had to endure. I think that having someone there you can go to early on allows you to see you are not alone and have help there when you need it.
Having help from several charities during my illness helped me to recovery as I was able to speak openly and honestly about my emotions, mental health and wellbeing. Early intervention can prevent other children having to go through what I went through and can positively change the standard of living for thousands of children and young people and potentialy save lives.