• "It's like you fall to the bottom of the pile"

Storyteller talks about his mental health and addiction issues, and how it was linked to his prolific offending. He talks about feeling let down by probation services and how he only got help when a judge enquired why his probation officers hadn't got him help with rehab. He feels that as a single man he is considered low priority for help and is concerned that most services aren't abstinence-based.

So what has been your experience of seeking support as someone with co occurring mental health issues and substance issues? Um, to at the beginning. So it's good, didn't it? Um, that was it. Years ago, Years ago. Um, I was in a position where I wanted to change

Life is life is terrible. And, um, I was, uh I was on the street at the time, and then I went to I went to my doctor, and, you know, he was I've been seeing him about this issue for two or three years and then sort of pointed me down the, um, rehab rehab route, which was 12 steps at a time. And, um, ba basically approach by the doctor who referred me, and he went through the social services to get funding

I went and had a face to face at this rehab. And, um, they said, Yeah, you're fine to come in, you just need to detox this, that and the other. And, um, basically, basically, from there, I waited like 223 years, to no avail

To try and get funding through the through the social service system, sort it all up. So, um, after three years. It was just kind of my drinking got worse

I was on the streets I was using every day. So I was injecting and, um, sort of gave up hope. And, um, I found I found myself in court one day and it was like and it Well, it wasn't getting to a point of being a prolific offender

I was a prolific offender, quite quite minor offences like. But the the judge said to me one day, and he said, Um, so and so you know, all your all your offences are drug related. Why haven't you been, you know, offered help like they basically turn around like given prosecution and probation, like the evils like And, um, they said, you know, they they basically shamed probation and people and prosecution in court, saying, you know, this guy should have been offered help

I said, I've been asking for it for, like years, and nothing has happened like and, um, so a couple of weeks there was that that probation and, um so we're going to do everything within our power to get you into rehab and to get your funding, and then social services got involved again. And, um, I went one day and I sat down the seafront and my drink, and then we got a phone call to say, you know, you've been you've been offered, uh, you've been offered funding. So I went back up to the I had face to face with, you know, a few years before that and they said, Yeah, you're fine to come in

A couple of weeks later, I was in detox, and, um, one of the probably the weirdest, most stressful experiences of my life because the detox I went to was understaffed. So they literally double do us. So, like, you know, they wouldn't get any agro grief in the in the in the in the detox

So as opposed to doing a normal detox, you literally double dose you and they detox you the half after one week, and then they literally, you know, reduced your every day. And, you know, you ended up doing the last 334 days of detox off medication like you going absolutely insane. I

I tell it to a few of my mates. And when I went into it's supposed to be fully detox, and I was like detoxing from my detox. That was the state of it

It was horrific. And then it got it got to a point that the you have this thing like a It's called peer to peer support somebody who has been in in the obviously, you know, a few weeks and they started going through the programme. It's a buddy buddy system like like they do most organisations

And then I was ready to walk because I was asked, I was asked to sit at the dinner table. My anxiety was that bad, like I couldn't fathom, like sitting at the dining table. And I said No, I got all defensive just because of my fear and my anxiety, like so not not that it's not happening

I'm hungry, I don't have to do it And then somebody came up to me. Buddy came up to me and said, You either do it or you gonna have to leave. I was just like, Wow, you know, it's part of the programme So I said, OK, I'm off, you know I'm going

I went down the office, kicked off down the office, had a lot of less barricaded myself in the office and, um, senior player come up to me. He come and knocked on the door and and he turned around to me and he said, You know, listen to him. This is the benefit of our own people that've been through, you know, the system people, people with life experience, especially with addiction and whatnot and homelessness

He come down to the office, he turned around to me and he said, You know, you said you waited. How many years? 34 years to go in there. Yeah, to get this opportunity to get clean

And now you want to throw all the way because somebody asked you to the dinner table. I was like, Oh, yeah. What? I what? I So, um so I went through the programme and, you know, I after I come out, I love the experience to write a lot of my wrongs and, you know, to change my ways and, um, to become a member of society again, which I thought would never happen

You know, I thought I'd always be less than the background, you know, addiction New Zealand and being homeless. I never thought I could make it again in the town. I lived because it was so small

But I write my own. I was able to do that, you know? And, um, I relied on meetings. There's plenty of plenty of them out there

I've been to a A. I got those sort of things. When I come out, you train for a very long time, but I got back in touch with my faith and, um, 99 years down the line

You know what they claim for like and, um, four picks up I I picked up again. There's no excuses. You know, I met my sister for the first time, you know, I made contact with my biological family and I went there for my birthday and met her on London Bridge

And my niece, you know, be known to me. My sister turned up, opened the present. I opened my present in front, and it was a two

Many bottles of champagne out of glass. I didn't even think about it. I drunk here it, You know, half an hour later, I was just, like, wanting to go to the pub and get off my box after nine years, you know? And, um yeah, so I come back? Um, I saw it become dysfunctioning

I was very functional. So I was working, you know, personal training, this that and the other and still exercising, having my binges. But, you know, and then eventually it got to a point where my binges became more and more and and, um, I I ended up back on it quite heavily, and I ended up back in prison, and, you know, we talk about services

Um, I said the service is imprisoned, you know, mental health. And there was nothing there for addiction, like the mental health wise. You know, the the counselling was there in prison, you know, regards to like, um I suppose the addiction side of it wasn't really an issue

You know, you doing drugs in prison, you're in your own, Hoo. It wasn't really an issue coming off anything. And I You know, since I since I've started drinking again, I've never I say, I've never I never had that issue when I was, you know, like I was just a daily drinker

I was having to like, you know, if I drunk, I was having the DTs rattling you being seriously ill like and ended up in hospital. You know, ever since then it's been like binges. 24 hour binges, maybe 223 days at the max and having a roof over my head, especially the last few years

For four or five years, I've been asked to get away with that because I can binge for, like, three days and then just spend like, three or four days in bed. You know, I'm at that age, so that's how long it takes to recover. So, um and yeah, unfortunately, there is with jail and childhood stuff

It's, um I don't know if it's just a single male thing we again getting help with, like, mental health stuff. It's like you fall to the bottom of the pile. That's the way it feels

You know, Um, I think a lot of organisations about that uh well, I help you with the addiction side of it. You know, not to go into detail and start mentioning people. Some people get it right And this

You know this slider? Some are abstinence. Some are like, Well, I found especially where I live in Cardiff. It's like a lot a lot apart from the S and stuff like that

A lot of things aren't abstinence based. You know, the courses they're running and I say in A in a group. But I'm like, just surrounded by people in denial about the drinking

I think I It's almost as an, you know, an unhealthy environment, just as it is being out there and, you know, amongst people that are using flat out. So I've had to, um, bad to like I tried. I tried these groups and it's just not it's not

It's not working for me at all like So, um, there's other groups around like smart groups, you know, And it's quite shocking that I live in a city like this and there's no smart groups run and every every organisation I've approached about it. It's like we need to do our training. We need to get this

It's easily so easily done by it, you know, And, um, it does really annoy me. Like if I wanna get to a meeting, I'm gonna travel 12 miles to go into a meeting for an hour, you know, and it's I say it's not doable, but it's when your head is quite negative. Is The last thing you're doing is jumping on a train or a bus to go an hour to a meeting, you know? And there are online meetings, and I've taken a few steps this week or so I've got you know, I've got a I've got a workbook workbook now so I can start accessing online meetings and stuff

But I did mention it the other day. If you don't, um, a while back, I, you know, got referred to the mental health team and mental health team were quick to basically say, Hey, you know, suffering from trauma PGSD this that and the other like it has been mentioned before. You kind of like give me a list of list, you know, a list of options, and it's, like, kick you out the door, you know, go and sort it yourself like, really? Maybe I'll just go home to bed for 48 hours and close my eyes like, you know, I come to the head to go and make these phone calls

I don't answer the phone call. You know, the best of times to my friends when I'm in a bad state. So it's like to be expected to go and do that

It's pretty history of life, very mental. Ironically. So, um yeah

So my experience of like the mental health I've just been referred to links now have to because I, I need to update my medication and stuff and there's a waiting list for them to update my medication. As it stands, I want to like I'm having to spend, like, days in bed and then, you know, double dose of my medication to get the benefit of, like, you know, the more the medication that I need. It sounds insane

And, you know, I have to top that up. The days I spend in bed, I have to top it up with alcohol and other stuff, like to to get to sleep. That's the situation at the moment, Um, so I'm hoping that with the mental health team now think we'll take a step forward and, um, but there's definitely there's definitely a gap between, you know, the services and people liaising, you know, and abstinence based courses that, um, the 12 steps doesn't really, you know, fit in with my belief

I'm a Christian like, and it doesn't really, you know, be taught as a Christian. You you know, you are a child of God, you know, to label yourself as anything else is there's power to Satan. You know, if you're a Christian, right? So you shouldn't do it

It's just putting yourself down. I am like, you know, some of the most powerful words you can use like to label yourself. I am

It's like dangerous self defeating in my eyes and a lot of people's eyes. So, um yeah, that's for me. It's, uh, people need to step up

People need to liaise a bit a bit further and, um especially from especially with the men like, you know, it's I I spent about picking the phone. Now I spent most of I spent most of this year like, you know, it's like on the phone to the Samaritans, Like I've got basically got an old like screen. So it's, um, so one of the biggest killers, like man, you know, suicide

It's been on my mind a lot for the last few years. Um, so, uh, yeah, I think I'll leave it there. Any questions? I thank you for sharing

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