My name is Steve O`Driscoll, I'm 47 years old as I write this and I've been diagnosed with acute anxiety and depression since the age of 14 (due to sexual abuse). I know we're not here to talk about that, but it will give greater understanding of the way I was. I saw 'was' because things have changed, for the better and I couldn't be happier about it.
Most of the stories on here are written in an incredibly erudite way, but my life has felt like a series of bullet points. So that's what I've done; the good, the bad, the heartbreaking, but they all form part of the man I am now. I'm proof positive that however bad things get, there's always a way out. This is my story....
- Started self-harming at the age of 14. The first time was a suicide attempt and it continued for 20 years.
- I now facilitate a group for people who self-harm.
- I also started abusing alcohol, prescription medication and illegal drugs i.e. cannabis and cocaine which went on for 20 years also.
- I reached the point where i was drinking half bottle of vodka as soon as i got up and continued throughout day.
- I eventually booked myself into detox at Plummer Court for a week and (touch wood) I never had drink since.
- I stopped self-harming after my detox as I had a clear head and was stronger.
- Life was bearable, but not great.
- I was married in 1992 for 10 years, of which I was with my wife for about 2 years (wife passed away as she also had major issues).
- Our daughter was born in 1995, but was adopted by Social Services at about age of 2. I have not seen or had contact with her for 18 years.
- My Dad also passed away in 1995 with brain tumor.
- In 2005, I myself was diagnosed with cancer.
- I had 5 operations and 10 sessions of radiotherapy (got all clear now, but have injection every 3 months in the form of testosterone).
- I asked MacMillan nurses for help and was told I was not entitled to any, but luckily a Social Worker overheard the conversation and offered to help.
- I got supported housing with Richmond Fellowship, which lasted about 4 years.
- Recently the RF had their 50th anniversary, with lots of events around country.
- This lead to being asked to stand up and tell my story at the House Of Lords. I had never spoke in public before, but stood up in front of 250 people and have been speaking openly about myself ever since.
- I got involved with Time To Change in (roughly) 2010 and it gave me lots of opportunities i.e. radio interviews, newspapers etc.
- I travelled the country for a year visiting all Richmond Fellowship services, trying to encourage people that recovery is possible.
- In 2009 started volunteering at Launchpad which, about 2 years ago, led to paid freelance work which I still do.
- In 2010 I was asked by Alisdair (who runs Launchpad) to go to Northumbria University to do some group work with Social Work students, which i really enjoyed.
- This has now led to me interviewing students for their places on Social Work courses, teaching when asked and delivering lectures as well as Self-Harm awareness sessions; the last of which was delivered to 95 students.
- I became chair of S.U. Committee for Social Work in 2014, which is ongoing.
- I had the idea of being a live case study for students and was filmed by media department and this went live recently (the students watched DVD and then I delivered lecture on positive risk and answered all their questions, the students loved it).
- In 2014 I started writing my autobiograpy and, at the end of 2015, I self-published the book (linked below). The idea being that if i ever got to meet my daughter, I would, at least, be able to say this book may answer a lot of her questions.
- In July 2015 was asked to go to York to talk to footballers about mental health and, on the way there at Central Station in Newcastle, I bumped into my step-son who i also have not seen for 18 years.
- He had contact with Vicky (my daughter) but they fell out. He sent me some photos of her. I'm still in contact with my step-son Russell.
So there you have it. I now live my life day to day life, taking positive risks, which i also deliver lectures on. In the near future I'm going to go to Social Services to try and contact Vicky, my daughter.
I think you'll agree, it's an incredible story, all the more amazing because it's true! You can download Steve's ebook 'This One's For Vicky' using the link just over there! Thanks to Steve for sharing his amazing tale with us.