Jamie's story: the care system, depression, ADHD and me

Jamie lived over 20 years of his life within the Scottish care system, he experienced childhood depression, and was diagnosed with ADHD. Jamie shares why he feels love can be both powerful and detrimental to mental health.

Developing poor mental health at a young age

I developed and experienced poor mental health from an age much younger than my peers due to those negative experiences. Between the age of 6 months and 5 years I experienced 14 separate foster placement moves and several residential Units by the age of 9. I had developed a serious attachment disorder, which restricted my ability to develop meaningful relationships with my peers, and to place trust in my care givers due to the number of displacements.

In the following years at the age of 10 my maternal mother passed away at a date very close to the festive period. Such a loss destabilized my already compromised mental health. I shortly after developed childhood depression. As I was of a young age and the lack of support available to develop effective coping mechanisms was poor I developed my own. They took the form and shape of escapism, escapism allowed me to transport myself into a virtual reality where I could redirect my stress, depression, anxieties and transfer those emotions into video games.

Video games offered me a safe space that fictional society could not offer. Escapism created a different variety of mental health challenges which would affect my ability to engage with others in later life.

Young adulthood and being diagnosed with ADHD

Moving into young adulthood at the age of 15 I was diagnosed with ADHD. This was a hereditary mental illness which professionals had stated could have been detected at a younger age and could have prevented unnecessary issues relating to my personal development and educational attainment. Throughout my youth and young adulthood I was victim of bullying, prejudice views and stigma from my peers, their parents, services and authorities due to my experience in the care system.

Accepting that I had experienced a set of unforeseen and unfavourable circumstances in my life I committed myself to education, excelling beyond the stigma and mental health challenges that I faced, to avoid becoming another stereotypical statistic of the care system.

"Accepting that I had experienced a set of unforeseen and unfavourable circumstances in my life I committed myself to education, excelling beyond the stigma and mental health challenges that I faced, to avoid becoming another stereotypical statistic of the care system."

I am the third care experienced young person in North Ayrshire council’s care, since the introduction of social services in western society, to achieve a place at University! I started my course in September at the University of Glasgow with the motivation and goal of defying social and cultural expectations of an individual raised in the care system.

Mental health and my dog

The turning point in my life arrived when I focused my energy and negativity into raising my Labrador. Raising and caring for a dog requires quite the effort. My dog allowed me to learn and view the world in positive perspective and channel my negative perception into something positive.

My Labrador Olivia saved me from years of torment and crippling mental health, the unconditional love and trust Olivia gives to me is the difference that keeps me living.

My drive to help others

I am at present currently seeking to develop a group supporting adults with ADHD in my local community, adults with ADHD are underrepresented and poorly supported in society this is due to the lack of research into adult ADHD.

Adults and young people who live with ADHD more commonly than not are diagnosed with a variety of other mental health illness’s. It will be through lobbying and campaigning that I hope to raise the profile of adults with ADHD and put them on the national agenda to improve outcomes. Togetherness is the key to success.

I am also at present and through my degree programme committing to articulating the need for Government, local authorities, third sector organisations and communities to recognise LOVE in the care that young people and adults receive. It is an ambition that through engagement, campaigning and by sharing my experience that LOVE will be recognised in the care plans for looked after children and in formal policy.

Love is powerful but is unrecognised and missing. My experience and determination will encourage and empower people to acknowledge love in the Scottish care system but also in the world we are surrounded by, local or national.

"Love is powerful but is unrecognised and missing."

Watch Jamie's video 'No Wrong Path' which was created with the University of Glasgow.

With more and more schoolchildren struggling to cope with their mental health, we have launched a new campaign: 'Make it Count'. We are campaigning to ensure every child in Scotland receives an education with mental health at its heart.

Make It Count Scotland