“I was 11 years old when I saw my uncle killed in a motorbike accident.
“I carried on my school life acting as though everything was great, when the reality was very different. I was experiencing flashbacks and having nightmares, and I started to self-harm as a way of coping.
“It was years before I admitted how much I was struggling and went to my GP to get help.”
At this point, Lara was 17 and fell into the gap between Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and adult services. She chose to wait until she turned 18 and be referred to adult services, as she didn’t want to have to transition.
From there she was referred to the community mental health team where she received support from a Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN) and an Occupational Therapist.
Although she found adult services welcoming and can’t fault the care she received, she’d love to see CAMHS extended to 25.
“I spent the next few years in and out of A&E and inpatient units as I struggled to deal with suicide attempts, self-harm and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms like dissociation and depression.
“It was what felt like a never-ending cycle with no way out. I was spending my days drowsy on medication to try and calm my urges and thoughts, and my night lying awake terrified to sleep for fear of nightmares.
“I spent months in hospitals beds, desperate for something that wouldn’t just keep me safe there and then, but would help in the long run.”
Last year Lara started trauma therapy with a specialist psychologist. She’s currently taking part in a therapy programme called Prolonged Exposure which approaches trauma-related feelings, memories and situations that have been avoided and practices recalling the memories in a safe, secure environment.
Lara is volunteering as a befriender to adolescents with mental health problems, she is a Year of Young People 2018 Ambassador and this year Lara was invited to sit on the Scottish Government’s National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group.
“Getting the specific help I have been needing for years has made me finally feel able to become the person I dreamed of.
“I would encourage everyone to ask for the help you deserve. You know yourself, and if you know what will help you, then ask for it. It’s never too late. There is support out there, and you can move on.”