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 struggled with the dynamics of family life as a child and felt quite traumatised by the whole experience. Life felt quite chaotic for me and I often felt unsupported, unstable and lacked a sense of security and self confidence.

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. I received high doses of toxic medication as a way in which to manage my behaviours. I found it difficult to relate to other people and often felt judged by others. I was at times subjected to the discriminatory behaviour of others, who spoke badly about me and behaved negatively towards me. I felt abused by others and this left me feeling very low in 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!