World Mental Health Day - Dave's story
After years of suffering from poor mental health, battling drug and alcohol addictions, and suicide attempts, Dave finally has stability in his life.
He is now happily settled in his new home and is pursuing his creative interests again thanks to a partnership between ForHousing and Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust.
The new initiative has been set up to help patients receiving treatment for mental health conditions in Salford move out of hospital and make a new start in a permanent home.
To mark World Mental Health Day, Dave has shared his powerful story, and wants to reassure anyone out there suffering with their mental health that help is available.
“When I was just 16, problems at school caused me to change college. I soon got into a relationship, but it was after this broke down that I first turned to alcohol. By the time I left to study Art and Design at the University of Salford, I was smoking a lot of cannabis too. I started making music from my room and was becoming reclusive.
“After a few months, I decided to leave university and get a job, continuing with my music at night. But my new job was stressful and I had begun to drink and smoke to cope with it - this couldn't last and after two or three years I was sacked.
“I was living back with my mum and stepdad again, and it was at this point that I was diagnosed with depression and prescribed Fluoxetine. I was drinking all day and, understandably, this put a lot of strain on my relationship with my parents.
“My mental health deteriorated rapidly over the following year - I was paranoid that I was being watched by surveillance teams. This came to a head when I left in a panic at 4am one night, taking the first train to Manchester.
“I had managed to get in touch with some school friends I hadn't seen for a few years who kindly put me up for a week. However, I was still paranoid that I was being watched by MI5 or the police, so I left and was sleeping rough until I got a place in a homeless shelter. I was there for just a month before I took myself to A&E.
“From there, things slowly started to look up. I was established as an inpatient at the Meadowbrook Unit for mental health at the Salford Royal Hospital, was given antipsychotics and was helped to withdraw safely from the alcohol.
“But, when I was released, I had nowhere else to go and so I went back to the homeless shelter. I then fell back into the old pattern of everyday drink and drugs. I was eventually given somewhere to live in a high-rise building in Salford but, as I was still reliant on substances, it didn’t last.
“It's a blurry period of my life - I was missing my medication, missing appointments with mental health workers in the community, and was paranoid and hallucinating all the time. I was eventually sectioned in 2015.
“A six-month stay back in Meadowbrook followed, but sadly the medication didn’t seem to work well for me. On the first night after my release, I bought a bottle of whisky and took a cocktail of drugs. I seriously injured myself that night, breaking my pelvis, wrist and several cracked ribs, and after a failed attempt by my parents to contact me, they had rung the police.
“Following a month in hospital, I was transferred back to Meadowbrook. But I was still depressed and delusional, and I tried to commit suicide in 2017.
“After the suicide attempt, there was another long, slow recovery, with the first six months being under constant watch. I remained stable and moved on to Pendlebury House, a lower-security hospital, in 2019. I stayed for 18 months, doing a lot of reading and painting until the section was lifted in August 2020.
“I then spent eight months at the halfway-house, Hollybank. By now, I had begun making music again on my laptop, and was feeling content and fulfilled for the first time in some years.
“Now, I'm happily settled into my new home with ForHousing.
“I have been receiving help through the scheme and am making huge steps in independence. I am feeling more in control of my money after help with setting up bills and direct debits over the phone. I have also had budgeting and bills advice and I feel less stressed because of it.
“I feel more motivated too, thanks to setting achievable goals with the ForHousing team - I’m hoping to get a pet soon, buy a new phone and I have started to go to galleries in Manchester again.
“I’m really proud of how far I’ve come. I don’t know where I’d be now without everyone at ForHousing - I no longer feel shackled by drugs, alcohol and my past, and am looking forward to the future in my new home.
“ForHousing has provided an invaluable service, it’s given me a sense of real purpose and progress, supporting my return to the community at my own pace but with optimism for the future. It was never just ‘ticking boxes’, but really taking the time to understand what I’ve been through, and I’m really grateful.”
*Name has been changed to protect the tenant’s anonymity