I was born in Oxford in 1971, can’t say I had a bad upbringing. I have always suffered an anxiety disorder which still affects me badly to this day. Around the age of 9 I had a big phobia of vomiting, which gave me severe panic attacks. I couldn’t stand school as I was bullied, as a result of the anxiety, so I absolutely refused to go. At this stage my mum gave me kaolin and morphine and said this would stop me feeling sick. I carried the bottle everywhere and didn’t realise I had become addicted to the morphine. I didn’t see much of my parents as they had to work awkward hours as we were quite a big family. My dad’s brother lived with us and as I was the youngest he looked after me most nights, he was my idle really.
When I reached 14 years I’d tried solvents which wasn’t really my thing as the anxiety couldn’t take anything that was making me high. School was still a problem, especially when my uncle died, I just went off the rails and the school had to let me go. I started drinking and this went on for a couple of years. At the age of 17 I joined the RAF. I couldn’t do a frontline job due to the anxiety so became a fitter. After a couple of years the anxiety flared up badly and they had to let me go. I started drinking heavily again. I still dabbled in different drugs and was introduced to heroin. Straight away I fell in love with it as it took the anxiety away and I thought I’d found the answer to all my troubles. It had made me more confident and I met Louise, my eldest son’s mum. I had to hide what I was doing. I had a job in a pub in Oxford and was getting home at 5 am as I drank still to get more affect off the heroin.
I was having a few problems so I had to end that relationship. By this time I was getting a bigger habit, so to get extra money I was taking money from electric metres – mainly from my parents. When I got caught I slowed down a bit and met my future wife. We got engaged and had a party at our social club. The addiction became nearly non existent until a week later when a close friend got really drunk and wanted to see me outside. I didn’t think nothing of it until he went to punch me, I hit him back. He fell backwards, I heard his head hit the ground but thought nothing of it and went home with my fiancé. The next morning there was a knock on the door and I was arrested for GBH with intent. This didn’t seem real I thought it was a dream. I was remanded in custody, I had just turned 21 and the family were in pieces. For some reason it still hadn’t sunk in. A few days later Paul died. I was taken back to court and charged with his murder.
I was bailed 2 months later with loads of conditions and as it was a long time until my trial – I got married and only my family turned up, but it went ahead. I was getting bad panic attacks, so the doctor started me on a high dose of Valium which helped. I felt like I was in some kind of trance, started having a drink again and more Valium was given from the doctor. The two day trial in Birmingham with a high court judge and I was found not guilty. Everyone was happy but I ended up having a massive breakdown and was admitted to a mental health hospital for six months. I can’t remember when I got out on loads of medication. I started hitting drink badly, anything to take the feelings away We had our daughter, Michelle and I started to slow down again but I still was depressed and drinking heavily. I was introduced to heroin again and of course, I
loved it. My wife and all my family had enough by now and I became homeless, living in tents and sofa surfing. I had been smoking heroin but then I started injecting. I overdosed at first but still went back for more. I can’t remember how but in 2003 I went to rehab, little was known about detox from Valium then and I was taken off it too quick and ended up a nervous wreck and relapsed. 2 months later I went to a rehab in Bristol and managed nearly a year clean. I just couldn’t handle the anxiety and ended up in a Nightshelter in Bath. I had been in prison for petty things and at this time I was on the run, got caught and back in prison. My life was a constant addiction, prison, bad relationships and then homelessness. The last prison sentence I done I knew I had had enough so when I was released I went to a Nightshelter in Winchester. Finally, someone believed in me, which others had given up, so from there I stayed clean off heroin for 4 years with the odd little slip and was given move on accommodation.
I still found myself letting the wrong people into my life and ended up losing my property in Winchester but with someone believing in me (Liz) I was given another chance. I now feel secure and still clean. I manage my alcohol intake. I’m still on a lot of medication which is for my anxiety but I accept this as part of my life. With the added support I’m managing addiction and anxiety as much as I can do.