Storying Sheffield

Brian’s Story

“I had a drug problem growing up…with my partner taking her life, it just got worse.”

This story is part of the Storying Health Inequalities project. You can listen to an audio version of Brian’s story here. Photos by Andy Brown.

I’ve always had mental health issues – I think growing up a lot of different things affected me, certain things that I’d seen I suppose my father not being there around a lot you know that always affected me – I think I always wanted that father figure you know, so that affected me so I think I always struggled with mental health just didn’t realise it, I had a drug problem growing up so that brings mental health along with it and then obviously, with my partner passing, taking her own life it just got worse and, I didn’t know how to cope with that you know I was kind of dealing with it…alone. I didn’t get any help I just took every day as it came and so I didn’t really get any help.

I’ve had problems with crack cocaine and heroin, I’m currently, I still have to take methadone, I’ve been clean now for a while, but the methadone can be harder to get off, it can be – it’s more addictive. You don’t like… because it’s on prescription so you’re okay it’s controlled but it can be harder to get off yer but yer so I’m on methadone at the moment and medication for mental health and you know I’ve lost people through it you know I lost my partner through mental health you know so I know exactly how it affects you like – how it affected her through to the point where she took her own life because she believed there was no other way out.

She was getting some help but you know when I used to try and help her sit with her at the doctors and talk to her even though I had my own problems like she just felt there was no way out and I will tell you what she did – she jumped from a tower block… she – you know for whatever reason in her head she just she had enough and you know she felt like there was no escape and you know it was a shame and you know it weren’t her fault you know for whatever reason she was struggling in her head and well yer so you know and I know better than most what it does to the person you know when they have took their own life and the person i.e. myself who is let with it you know it has a huge effect on me because you sit there thinking yourself – could have would have should have if you like you know could I have done this could I have done that?

I know other people – I’m not the only one who has been through that – there’s thousands of people who have been through it but…I know the effects of mental health and I know the effects of when you don’t feel you are getting that help and when you feel like you are being ignored, when you feel there is no way out.

It’s this saying and I hate it when people say this it was something I’ve seen on TV but when people go ‘oh man up’ you know ‘man up’ you know and I hate it when people say that because you know it doesn’t matter how big you are how strong you are how muscly you are you know mental health you know can break the biggest of people. The one word I hate that when people say that when you know when you’re struggling through the day I mean I still get up some days and I still have my days where I struggle a little bit but you know I keep telling myself I get through and you know I get through but when people go ‘oh just man up will you and get through it’ no you shouldn’t say that it’s the wrong thing to say you know so that’s where people struggle un all because people are scared to come out and say that they are struggling with mental health people are scared to say you know what I mean ‘oh I can’t cope I’m breaking down I’m crying’ you know I don’t want to wake up’ you know people are scared to say that you know because… for whatever reason the way people interpret that or the way people perceive it or look at it is you know is weak or – no it’s not weak mental health is underestimated what it does to people – massively underestimated so that’s the one thig I hate when people say that ‘man up’ you know it doesn’t matter – the biggest of people it can break so…

My hopes would be again set up family you know, to have my own property, to have a job, to be working, to be in a stable relationship…stable job I suppose and all the things I suppose that come with that you know that’s my hopes and again family, good health and yer generally a good future.

My fear is not having that, not being able to achieve that, I think anything is achievable if you really want it you can achieve it but the fear of not being able to achieve that for whatever reason yer that definitely fears, bad health you know not being healthy that fears, you know losing loved ones you know a big fear, yer and I suppose just generally with my depression or anxiety if that gets any worse or you know – cause a few months ago I had a bit of a – a bit of a breakdown you could call it where I just couldn’t – I weren’t coming out of my room, I couldn’t even speak – my family were ringing up I couldn’t speak to them…I were just that low and…I just couldn’t talk.

I just didn’t want to talk to anybody and…luckily and I’m glad that after they understood but I couldn’t even talk to my own daughter and you know so I fear of them stages happening but at the moment you know I’m getting more help, I’m more stable so I’m learning how to cope with it better now. I’m learning for when them things do happen, how to control it and how to put things in place to try and prevent it from happening