I would like to tell you about my Self.
My Earlier Years
I had a very hectic childhood from the start. My mother was an alcoholic and I never had a close relationship with my Father. Dad left when I was 7 and it caused my mum to spiral down even further into alcoholism resulting in her attempting suicide a few times. My childhood culminated in me being placed into private foster care at 13, after a violent outburst from my Mum. I started counselling at Hillbrook CAMHS (Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services) when I was 14 and went on to other types of therapy through the next 20 years. I thought foster care would be my path to a promising future. Unfortunately, the environment wasn’t helpful. We constantly clashed and I left to live on my own when I was 17.
After attending various types of therapy and counselling over the years, including 6 years of psychotherapy, I didn’t feel any better about my life and who I was! With two failed attempts at suicide behind me, I became very depressed and hateful. I couldn’t hold down a job and found building relationships difficult! I lost contact to my daughter due to my behaviour, drink addiction & self-harm.
I became a father for the second time but like always I split from Mum because of my state of mind! At least I felt determined to show this daughter that I’m not all bad! I met my current partner and things seemed to settle down finally. I continued with my medication and regular visits to my GP. I was referred to Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) which really helped but it was incredibly tough.
My optimism soon turned its back on me! When I was 32 I decided enough was enough! I didn’t serve a purpose in my life and I truly believed everybody was better off without me! I had no job and was heavily addicted to alcohol. I had reached my breaking point and was determined not to live anymore!
My breakdown resulted in me staying at Lynfield Mount Hospital for 10 weeks. I was stripped of all personality. I felt sick at the thought of all those wasted years in therapy because I felt worse than ever! My partner stood by me and for the first time in my life I felt a little bit of encouragement.
Discovery of Peer Support + WRAP
When I got home I started having occupational therapy with someone from my CMHT (Community Mental Health Team). The therapist told me about Wellness Recovery Action Planning (WRAP). When I first attended the 12 week course I was incredibly sceptical due to the amount of therapy I’d had in the past that didn’t work!! This was my last chance! It was explained to me that I wouldn’t be “taught” anything and that “I already knew what I needed to be happy” I just needed help to unlock it. The facilitators even told their own stories of mental illnesses. It’s fair to say I was annoyed! Why had this not been offered sooner if it was that simple?! The WRAP seemed obvious. Too easy. If I already knew this then why didn’t someone show me this years ago! I followed the course. At the end I had my own WRAP. My own “instruction manual” that I wrote for me! I began to use my WRAP and to this day I still live by it.
Two years after my WRAP I had a relapse and was taken to Airedale Hospital. When the psychiatrist knew about my WRAP and most importantly my “Crisis Plan”, she concluded I was safe enough to be at home with my partner. My WRAP educated me on what I need, what I deserve as an individual human being & it helps friends and family understand me. I finished my DBT & together with WRAP it has changed my life for the better!
I believe in WRAP so much I became an accredited facilitator and have facilitated 20+ WRAPs so far. With the help of MIND in Bradford and Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust (BDCFT) I set up a Wellbeing & Recovery Support Group in my hometown of Keighley. The amount of people I meet who are just like me when I was in my darkest days is scary! But I’m settled in the knowledge that if I can do it, they can too.
I was awarded a National Health Star Award in the Lifesaver category from Good Morning Britain in 2017.
I have been on BBC Radio Leeds chatting about mental health and my work trying to improve services.
I was on BBC Look North discussing my personal experiences of being sectioned under the mental health act & the stigma associated with it.
I won a You’re A Star Award from BDCFT for my volunteering and input into shaping services.
I was on the steering group for The Cellar Trust Haven in Shipley.
I was invited onto the management board for the AMHP (Approved Mental Health Professional) course at Bradford University.
I have also worked with students in Leeds City College Keighley Campus on a 1to1 basis supporting them with their issues.
I’m a Designated UK Trainer of the Core Principles of Intentional Peer Support. This is a worldwide practice originating from New Zealand, promoting social change and a non-medical approach towards peer support.
In December 2019 in Dublin, I qualified as an Accredited Advanced Seminar III WRAP Facilitator. This means that not only can I facilitate WRAP seminar I, but I can train participants to become WRAP facilitators themselves.
I have developed Recovery, Resilience & Re-lapse Prevention Training for BDCFT clinical staff to help themselves stay as well as they can and also help their clients too.
I am Adult & Young People Mental Health First Aid Trained.
I am ASIST Suicide First Aid Trained.
I am still alive!!
A Positive Future!
My youngest Daughter is my best friend & my world. She understands about my past & current difficulties & we are very close.
My Fiancée Emma & I are planning on getting married after meeting her in 2007. It is possible to find love when you don’t love yourself.
I love my life and I’m able to deal with the bad days. Who’d have thought I’d be able to say that?!
“If I Can, You Too Can!”