Beth's Story

At the time I didn’t really know what it was doing to me, but I knew self-harming was doing something. I think I needed someone at that point to turn around and tell me it was going to be ok, but I didn’t have anyone to tell me that at the time.

I was born and brought up on Regent’s Park Estate in London. I was about 13 or 14, and I saw this massive purple bus on the estate and it had XLP plastered along the front. And I thought, what is this? Let’s go and check it out.

I was completely shocked to find out the bus inside was not like a normal bus. There was a kitchen, seats, Xboxes, places to do homework, learn to cook. So we were like, “ah, this is really cool!” and we kept coming back!

I went to school in south London, it was quite a good school. Every student had to hit that grade. And they would really, really push you. And I knew I was going to struggle when it came to GCSEs. It was a lot of pressure, to do my family proud, to do myself proud. And at the time I thought I couldn’t talk to people about what was going on. When GCSEs came around and I didn’t pass everything, I wasn’t offered a place at 6th Form.

It felt really horrible. I felt like I’d failed.

So ended up really getting in my head about it and started self-harming. First memory I have was burning my arms with deodorant cans, and then very quickly, it moved on to cutting.

My mum was the first person who realised and, at the time, I don’t think they knew what to do. So the first thing they did was call my school up. And I remember going into the school the next day, and the words they said to me was, “you need to stop doing this because you are only doing it for attention. There is nothing wrong. You’re fine.”

I went home that night and cut my arm up again.

I remember thinking I have no control of what is going on, at all. And this is the one thing I have control of. I didn’t talk to the XLP leaders straight away. I’d known them for about two years by that point, but I still felt like this was my problem.

It was only when we kind of got invited on our summer camp that I really thought “ah, they are going to stick around. Maybe it is worth me talking to them.”

At summer camp, there’s a campfire every evening where we get to share what’s going on in our lives. We’ve got a leader called Mary, who was running the bus, and I remember Mary coming over to me at the time and she said “would you like to talk around the fire this year?” And I remember shaking top to toe as I got up and I laid it all out in front of all of the people that were on the trip.

I started crying. Mary came and gave me a hug. She was like, “you know what, if you ever need to have a chat, I’m here.”

I remember that feeling of relief. It wasn’t someone who was judging me, telling me it was for attention. It was someone helping me try and find different methods of coping with the stress and letting me know I wasn’t a failure. Someone who was really trying to break the mindset that I’d given myself.

I’m now on the XLP Experience year which is a gap year. I’m a leader on the bus I first went to as a young person, which is really awesome. Through the experiences I’ve had, I know what it feels like to be there and feel like you’re not worth anything and actually I can be the person to be like you are worth millions and I’m getting to be that person that Mary was for me, to somebody else.

And it’s all because XLP helped me out.

 

If you or someone you know is facing mental health challenges, a wide variety of services exist to support young people and adults. We've compiled a list of services that are readily available.

This film was produced with the support of Contra, a production company in London.