I was born into a poor Cypriot family in North London in 1979. I was the youngest of three sisters until my younger brother was born six years later, for which I was happy. My parents struggled financially throughout my childhood. They worked in a shoe factory from morning to night just to make ends meet, and their financial struggles put extra stress on them, thus the family.
My father was prejudiced against women, and this was inflicted continuously upon me as I was growing up. Throughout my childhood, I remember feeling unworthy and unloved because I was a female. My mother was the servant of the house who lived a stressful life with many concerns. Her job was to keep my father happy while taking care of four kids and all house chores.
Due to my parents’ financial struggles and many other issues, our family home environment was anything but cheerful and affectionate. Our family home looked normal from the outside but on the inside, was anger and sadness. I remember feeling envious of happy families that could enjoy family time and feel comfortable in their homes.
I began secondary school at age eleven. After school, my siblings and I would head straight to the shoe factory to work with my parents until late in the evening before heading home where my mother would cook and clean, and my siblings and I would start our homework. This lifestyle was tiring, unpleasant, and not how I wanted to live my life, and it began to take its toll on me. At school, my grades were terrible, and I became a straight D student. I adopted a rebellious nature, and I would even skip classes. I started to build up a lot of resentment, anger, and hatred toward my family and society. I was miserable and hated my life, and at the age of thirteen, I run away from home.
That same evening, I was found by a social worker sleeping on a street bench outside a train station that was miles away from my house. The very next day, I was sent to a foster home. I started to build up a lot of fear, mistrust, and low self-worth issues. Two months later, I went back home to live with my biological parents, but nothing had changed. From then on, the relationship between myself and my parents was terrible, and it wasn’t long before our relationship turned vicious.
Some months later, the whole family moved to Cyprus. I became uncontrollable, and late one evening, at the age of fifteen, I run away from. I
had no money, no friends, and no idea where I was going or what I was going to do. I was living a rebellious lifestyle, and within a few months, alcohol and marijuana abuse became a part of my daily life. My life was falling apart before my eyes as I went from disaster to disaster. I started hanging out with toxic people who gradually introduced me to heroin and cocaine. Eventually, I became so addicted and so disassociated from the world around me that my entire life revolved only around my next fix.
It was not long after that my house was raided, and I was arrested for drug possession, facing a possible five-year prison sentence. However, I was released with the condition that I sought professional help. Upon my release, I moved back in with my parents and continued my old habits. Two months later, I was in a car accident. I remember waking up in a hospital with facial injuries, severe drug withdrawal symptoms, and deep depression – I felt exhausted, lost, lonely, and a failure. And due to this unfortunate car accident piling up on my already existing dysfunctional life, I contemplated suicide.
The depths of the fear that I felt on that day were so brutal. It was the first and only time in my entire life that I felt so out of control and terrified of what I might do to myself. Some years later, I moved back to North London to start treatment programs, but nothing worked. Instead, I overdosed many times. I hated that my family saw me in this uncontrollable state, and although they were supportive, I still abandoned my family home due to overwhelming guilt, shame, and confusion.