Shane’s mum died by taking her own life in August 2011, which triggered a mental health crisis and subsequent breakdown. He has since recovered, and recently spoke to an audience of around 200 people at a mental health conference in London, where he talked about his experiences.
“Mum mum’s death was a complete shock to me. They were on holiday at the time in Cornwall. I had a call from my brother saying that she had died, taken her own life.
“I was off work for a few months, and returned two months after which was a bad idea – it was too early. I carried on for three years afterwards but eventually lost my job, through the stress of it all. I had my first proper meltdown at work and knew I couldn’t carry on any more.
“I began taking cannabis, and split up from my partner - the mother of my son. I stayed in the house for over a year, but was slowly backing away from her. I was still working, I was still seeing my son, but I wasn’t the person I was before all this happened. It just kept slowly taking me away from everything and everyone. Eventually I left – I got kicked out, and was made homeless. I struggled to find a place and to keep it, I was still using drugs pretty hard, and I just alienated everyone. I was still working, but was going home and getting high, and just being lonely, barely socialising, and anxiety and depression were through the roof.
“Then in 2015 when I was homeless for the third time, I realised that something had to be done. I was still in contact with my ex and she tried to help me as much as she could, but it was difficult, and I didn’t have much support – I had a few friends I trusted but when you’re in that situation you alienate yourself from everyone.
“It was then that I found Amber (The Amber Foundation). Amber took me in – it’s a fantastic establishment in North Devon and they really look after you, give you the structure back that I lost, even menial tasks like getting up, washing and dressing. They support you day to day and it’s up to you to push yourself to get back to normality. It took me about four months to get properly adjusted – it’s in the middle of nowhere, with lovely surroundings.
“It’s changed my life – absolutely, and I found myself starting to discover what I wanted to do. My mental health took a massive toll so I started to exercise. I became a Level 2 fitness instructor and had an interest in fit classes – inspiring people to get together and do something and that’s when I knew it was something I could do for a career. It didn’t quite turn out like that but I’m able to use those qualifications for the coaching I do with the CITY Community Trust. I got in touch with Will from the Opportunity club and was able to get my links with the club – it blossomed from there. It’s been a fantastic journey.
“Men are meant to be these macho strong people but actually, behind the scenes, they can be the weakest. There’s definitely a stigma surrounding it, which needs to be improved. I’ve always been very private, so there would be times when I wouldn’t put myself in that position, but getting the help I got took me a long time, but I was the sole person who got the help I needed. I had my friends and family who were there to support, but ultimately, it’s you who has to take the first steps.
“You don’t have to come out with your problems, you can just emerge yourself in the positivity and without realising it people can pick up on your behaviours and mannerisms. It happened to me – I’ve got a very good friend and he knew something was wrong, he took me to one side and said: ‘is everything alright?’. If you’ve got a problem find that one person you can truly rely on – you can get the help you need.”