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Story Submission by Allie, Age 24

Since I was a small child I dreamed of two things: building my own car, and being the opposite gender.

My life has always been ruled by social phobia. Up until I was 18, I was able to hide indoors and read, fiddle with electronics and write music.

My parents split up when I was 18, with one of them temporarily moving overseas and the other moving interstate. I pulled together all the money I could from working for a commercial vehicle dealership.

At this time my motivation was to work my way up as a driver, save enough to get into motorsport, and then work with a team to build a car I could be proud of. I was ready to die in a crash, preferably before my 30s, to avoid confronting gender dysphoria.

After the relationship I was invested in fell apart and the work dried up, I put my mind to learning as much as I could about how cars work, so I could try and put one together cheaply. In the meantime I attended a couple of TAFEs for IT qualifications, along with working as a driver for a small local company, driving locally.

I bought the first car I enjoyed driving since my first car (84 BMW 318i), a VS Commodore V6 Manual with some mods.

It was wrecked when I bought it, but I spent all my spare money on what ended up being a $6000 restoration. Though the company I worked for was lovely, the workload did not help my anxiety condition or my depression. Trying to cover up how much I was suffering from them and especially gender dysphoria, along with my car’s handbrake failing and it rolling backwards into a pole (causing thousands of dollars in damage that by now I really couldn’t afford) caused me to have a (mental) breakdown in 2015.

I moved in with my sister.

I spent the next several months trying my best to recover and even started working as a driver again. I managed about 5 months before I started to fall apart again, and knew I had to confront my gender identity issues.

I entered therapy, and saved all my pennies.

In mid-2016, I started to pick up the pieces of my car. I bought a $200 VR Commodore, registered it for a matter of hundreds, and set to work on swapping in the engine and transmission from my old, damaged car.

This was going to be an analogy for my own recovery, to me – an example that as it was re-birthed, so would I be.

I had never attempted to do anything more complicated than change my own oil before, and some of the tasks proved to be very difficult. Nevertheless, 2 and a bit weeks later, my Ecotec-swapped, manual-swapped & modded VR Commodore rolled out of my friend’s dingy, rain-filled carport I had spent the previous few weeks in.

At this point, my sister decided I should leave her house immediately. With no money, I drove to the nearest place I could stay: my mother’s, 800km away.

After staying there for a few weeks, a friend offered for me to live with her if I helped care for her, as she had fallen considerably and indefinitely ill.

And so that’s where I am now, about to start medical transition, about to move house, with my possessions still packed into the car I built and drove a total of 7000km so far since the build.

It hasn’t broken down.

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, anxiety, self-harm or addiction, please reach out. Call 13 11 14 for Lifeline’s 24hr Telephone Crisis Support or contact a mental health professional. If you are looking for other mental health resources, browse our Find Help page.

If a life is in danger call 000 immediately.

Stories written by members of the Cars For Hope community. Find out how you can submit your story today.

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