Before being referred to SAMH’s Moray Service by his doctor, Brian was experiencing thoughts of suicide, struggling with alcohol use and rarely leaving the house. Brian was initially referred for a 12-week programme of support, but has since extended his time with SAMH to continue supporting his recovery.
“I’m 16 weeks free of alcohol now,” said Brian. “Because SAMH helped me find Arrows [drug and alcohol support charity] and from there I came to Moray Drug and Alcohol Support. It’s all stemmed from SAMH, all my help. It gave me those windows of opportunity.
Brian meets with his support worker, Bruce, once a week. “I look back to when I started meeting with Bruce, and I'm just a different person altogether. I honestly can’t believe it. When I started, I was having suicidal thoughts, just feeling lost. I wasn’t going out anywhere apart from to my mum’s, and she was doing all my shopping for me. At the time, I was alcohol dependent and now I don’t drink at all. I’ve even been to a few shops where I've been really surprised by myself, that I was able to go in.
“I don’t go into Tesco’s or Asda because they’re huge, but another big step was starting to use online shopping. It’s great because it takes a lot of stress off my mother as well, for shopping and what have you. And it’s just a big change in my life as well – I'm getting my independence back. It’s just turned my life around.
“My mum doesn’t express herself a lot but she just thinks this place is magical. She says the change she’s seen in me is unbelievable. She’s even got a nickname for Bruce – calls him Superman! Over the last week I took her for a lunch down on the coast and that’s another place I hadn’t been to for a very long time. The place was busy and I still managed to go and enjoy myself.”
For some time, Brian had found it difficult to eat or to keep a routine, but now he’s usually up first thing in the morning and eating regular meals. He’s also reconnected with the church. “I mentioned to Bruce that I used to go to church but hadn’t been for ages, and lo and behold, a week or two later he actually got one of the sisters to come round here to SAMH to meet me. It opened up everything and the weight off my shoulders was amazing. It was a huge moment I'll remember for the rest of my life. I felt the stress coming off me, felt the weight coming off me.”
Brian has a disability, suffers with arthritis and had to have an operation on his back. With support from Bruce, he has acquired a mobility scooter to help him get out and about, which has further helped him to regain his independence.
“It’s truly amazing the help that I've got. I see a psychiatrist too and he’s really good but seeing Bruce every week is something I really look forward to. It picks me up. I was feeling a wee bit low last week but by the time I came out of my appointment I was feeling brand new again.
“There’s always something new that Bruce is looking to introduce me to, something else to look forward to. And I’m really just starting to give myself a wee bit of credit for my progress too. I struggle with it a lot, but now I'm starting to give myself a wee bit of a on the back.”
Brian is a keen photographer and he’s now feeling ready to reconnect with this hobby. “I’ve been getting back on my computer, where all my photos are. What I really need to do is get my camera, go out and start taking photos again. This is something I know I'll be doing soon, I've got faith I'll be doing it soon.
“To anybody in my position, I can only recommend the help given by SAMH. They’re really caring. I can come down here and it’s like meeting with friends now. If any of my words can help anybody or make them realise this help is out there for them, that would be amazing. That would be a thank you back to SAMH, and to Bruce, from me.”