My day to day role is to motivate violent offenders to change, by empowering them to understand emotional regulation and the power of self talk. My background is 4 years in the Royal Navy followed by 10 years as a prison officer, finishing where I am now as a Director of a behavioural change programme. This is not the real story and this is not the motivation behind my ambition for S.A.D Samaritan.
The real me grew up in a household that was unpredictable and at times violent, I remember spending the majority of time as a little boy scared and lost. I had emotions inside of me that didn't match my environment, I wanted to be a happy friendly boy that just wanted be loved but all I got was pain and heartache. Growing up in a dysfunctional family led to confusion around who I really was, I wanted the respect of my family and the love that might come with that. I joined the royal navy as a clearance diver and enjoyed my time but couldn't understand why I struggled so much with my negative thoughts and my emotions. I didn't understand what depression was and I mistook it for homesickness so decided to leave the navy and return home. Again feeling lost I decided to join the prison service, thinking this would fill the void and prove to others that I could handle extreme situations.
Everyone knows what sort of things happen in a prison but to experience it everyday under medication abuse is another thing. I had a leg injury which led to me being prescribe strong painkillers, despite me discussing my depression with the doctor they gave me these codeine based pills which as well as soften the pain it lifted my mood. That was the start of it, I chased that high and I wanted that feeling 24/7,it had the power to bury my depression with a medical induced high. I became addicted to pain killers and started to hide them around the house and away from my wife and family, I thought I had cured my head and this was the answer to all my problems.
As time passed my behaviour became unpredictable and my thought process was slightly unhinged, I was putting myself in positions in the prison that led to me being assaulted and regularly knocked unconscious by inmates. I had started to manipulate doctors to prescribe me medication and wouldn't leave until I got what I went for, this led to me stock piling and not understanding the side effects that this medication would leave too. It all came to a head one day when I visited my childhood home with the intention of causing harm, however before hand I took one to many pills and ended up collapsing. I ended up in intensive care after collapsing and was a few days before I came round. My then wife spoke to the nurse and thought it to be best that I would be placed in a secure unit for 28 days, I clucked my way through those 28 days.
Leaving that unit I realised that my real problem was depression and pain killers gave me a way of escaping the sadness. I was determined to find the support I needed to deal with my mental health issues, my now ex wife was still supporting me with this battle and I thank her to this day for this. I went to the doctor to discuss my depression for the first time and was told "I don't have time to discuss this now, you will have to book a longer appointment when you leave". This hit me like a hot wave and I got up and left the room, the sound that will sit with me for a long time is my ex wife screaming "you don't how long It took me to get him here". I don't blame the doctor I blame the system, how we deal with mental health issues and support society is a broken system and we need to open our eyes to this. Following the Doctors I attended a project that is meant to support emotional deregulation, I attended the hour meeting and opened up to the professional for the full hour and felt listened for the very first time. I left the building and walked down the street feeling okay then I received a phone call stating I was to much of a risk to work with and they couldn't help. I again accept the projects decision however being told on the phone I was a high risk to society while walking down the street and no advice on what to do next was unacceptable, was I risk ? if so where do I go now ?.
The support through mental health is all about reaching a certain criteria, to much of a risk or not enough risk to work with seems to be the answers I hear from clients now. Then comes the bad practice from professionals, luckily I had the motivation needed to find the correct support but many will be put off if the professional they meet for the first time is not a positive one. I have gone through every support there is and have seen inappropriate and negative practice by professionals from over medicating when stressing I was addicted, professional late then coming in with her shopping, asked what I had seen to be diagnosed with PTSD within the first minute of meeting them. Almost a 2 years since I walked through the door asking for help I finally found the professional that treated me like a person, set correct boundaries and genuinely wanted to help her name was Anita and she saved my life. She was a Mental health worker on a Cognitive analytical Therapy and gave me the tools to get through every day and understand my thought cycles, if she is reading this - Thank you.
The issue I have is that if you are a person looking for help and have a negative experience the first time you ask for help it could send you in a downward spiral, I was lucky I was given support my ex wife but many do not have this. This clothing label is to create awareness around depression and overall mental health, to start conversations while wearing something that is very much on trend. The stigma attached to shirts supporting a cause will only be worn for a short period, I want S.A.D Samaritan to be a everyday brand that is comfortable to wear. We have a responsibility to others especially young people to promote speaking when feeling down, or asking a friend/Samaritan for help when life is tough and if the support system is broken then we must get the support from our networks.
This will be a social enterprise and profits will be shared with public funded agencies that do support positive mental health, the rest will go back into manufacturing. I would like to see this grow in the future and have the opportunity to hire people that struggle and would like a way back into work.
I could go on and on and probably missed so much out so any questions please contact me.