Dan's Story

Dan talks candidly about his mental and physical health, homelessness and addiction, and how he is beginning to rebuild his life with support from ACTion Lincs.

Most of my younger life wasn’t spent helping people it was spent helping myself, cos I was robbing people and taking drugs…

My little brother met this bird, and she was getting ready to do an exchange to Lincoln and she had a spare bedroom so she said: ‘Why don’t you two come?’

I was a junkie and an alcoholic at the time and we were scratching pennies and that off the street and we thought if we go there it will be a change, all-new. Yeah, that was about eight, nine years ago, but that ended up all falling through. We got thrown out and ended up getting involved with all the street people. I think I was drinking more, smoking more and smoking those legal highs.

It changed me… it changed us both, we lost a lot of weight and we became like zombies. It was atrocious. For two or three years we were just scavenging around Lincoln, you know.

I met Laura then, at Addaction, she was my keyworker, but I ended up messing up and going. I went to prison for six months, well twelve months and I did six months. That was two years ago. My little brother died in a house fire whilst I was inside, he got burnt alive…

So, I ended up travelling and went downhill. I was doing a lot of smack and I went downhill really fast and was given a couple of weeks to live…

Then I met Laura again at my mate Tim’s and I started working with her again; she helped me out with my health. I got ill and ended up in hospital. She sat there with me, I was really ill. I’m HIV positive and I’ve got Hep C as well and I’d been drinking that much that my liver wasn’t working properly, the sclerosis was really taking over and a big lump of goo or something like black mush was sat on my spleen. I had gastroenteritis and the valves in my liver were inflamed and my bile ducts weren’t working properly, they were blocked.

Now I’m putting on weight, I’m taking my pills regularly. I was on the Hep C treatment and the nurse told me I’d improved my liver and my Hep C that much that I went down from hundreds of thousands of viruses in my blood to below a hundred, so it’s seventy-eight, that was recently and she said you’ve done more in two weeks than most people do in three months!

I’m putting on weight, my health’s up-hill, my HIV’s under control, so’s the other virus and I’m feeling better for it.

My body has absolutely accepted what’s going on and it seems to be working with the tablets I’m taking. I’m feeling a lot better and it’s these guys, P3 that sort of pushed me to do things and directed me in the right ways. No drugs, no legal highs. I’m putting on weight, my health’s up-hill, my HIV’s under control, so’s the other virus and I’m feeling better for it. I can see properly now and I wouldn’t have done none of this if it weren’t for P3.

But, my nerves are shattered, I’ve got so many issues going on at the moment, thinking about my mum and dad dying when I was in prison. I was doing a six and a half year stretch and my dad died first of all with cancer, it ate him away. Mum died six months later.

Plus… I’ve buried all my mates over the years… One of my best mates Dean banged smack in his arm, and about an hour later he was dead. It seemed like every week they were dropping, you know?

And this shitty virus, I don’t know how I’ve got away with it, I really don’t… I’ve had it since 1990, that’s twenty-eight years, mate.                    

So, I stopped taking my meds. It weren’t that I couldn’t take them, it was that I didn’t want to take them. I was so fed up with life at the time. I had no bottle to kill myself, though I felt like it a couple of times. I thought if I stopped taking my meds I’d die slowly. And now I take them every day, it’s become part of my life now, it’s like I don’t need telling, it’s just natural now. I do about fourteen in the morning and about another twelve at night. It’s like having a meal, it’s unreal!

I’m nearly fifty years old and I’m looking at the future and I want it to last as long as possible, you know. I need to look forward and take every day as it is, enjoy what I’ve got left and spend it with my loved ones. I want to spend as much time as I can, you know? I just want to be a family, I want to have my children, I want to have my dog and I want to have my rocking chair by the fire, that’s all I ever wanted…

You’ve done so much for me in them six months.

Now, I’ve been with ACTion Lincs since the 2nd November last year, it’s been about six months. You’ve done so much for me in them six months.

I was in a bad way really, I’d got to the stage where I’d just stopped caring. I didn’t care what I looked like, if my clothing smelt. I used to sit down just holding my hand out asking people for money, strangers, and I felt the lowest that I’ve ever felt. I think back to six months ago and I think I hate me, I wish that part of my life wasn’t there, but I’m going forwards now and it was just another stage in my life really. I’ve learnt from it. I was really feeling low and I didn’t think I was going to be around much longer. I weren’t taking my medication properly and I think I just gave up, mate. And P3 said yeah come on we’ll give you a room here.

It gave me a boost, I was so proud of my room and I kept it really tidy. I’ve got a bath, it’s there and I’m going to use it – I had so much time when I didn’t. I still feel like I’m washing the dirt off now. That’s how I feel when I get in the bath or shower, you know. I feel like there’s a big thick layer of dirt sat on me and it needs to be washed off. I hope that makes sense, but that’s how I feel and doing all that stuff on the streets and that, I should have scumbag written on my forehead.

The next step is getting my own place, I need somewhere that’s mine, yeah. I can have my boys then, they can come up for the weekend or stay for the day. At least they’ve got somewhere to go then, when they get here.

I’d like to go to college and do some classes. I’ve never done it before, but I’m really interested in photography.

I like my own company, I’ve got things to do, I’ve got colouring books and pens and pencils. I like artwork. I was going to say I’m quite artistic, but I’m not really. I’d like to go to college and do some classes. I’ve never done it before, but I’m really interested in photography.

I’d like to try to do that and I like cooking as well. These have all come back to me, as I say it’s only six months, but I’ve come so far, I know I have and the support I’ve got around me now is amazing, I’ve not had that before.

I’m looking forwards to the future, I’m going to get time to spend with my sons and my ex-Mrs.

Now I’m with ACTion Lincs I’m looking forward to the future I’ve got goals I’ve actually hit some targets, so now I’ve got more targets that I need to hit, I’m getting backup from P3, from Positive Health and hopefully I’ll be getting St Barnabas helping me out. I’m going to get myself sorted, I’m going to get myself a place. I wouldn’t be able to do this without P3, I think I’d probably break down, I don’t know, I don’t think I could have handled it on my own, you know, because I’ve really been unwell.

My keyworker’s amazing. P3 come and pick me up they all know me and I get on really well with everybody and I think they’re amazing. What they do is brilliant. They’ve helped me so much. I think they need a reward for it, all of them! They try their hardest even though the odds are against them, most times. I think they’re brilliant for it.

Everything, it’s all going uphill at the moment… P3 tells me how it is, we go out for walks and spend time together, my keyworker tells me it straight, you know how I mean? We do our plans and that. They’re always brilliant.

She’s like my diary as well! I’d forget all these things. I don’t credit myself with anything. They got me a little phone. So, I sit there and I get a little text saying come out, and I look out the window and I see they’re there and I know they’re going to take me and they’re going to bring me back and that it’s just what I need.

I’ve got the support there for me and if it wasn’t there I don’t think I could do half the things I’m doing. They need credit for it, they really do.

Now I’m putting on aftershave even though I’m not shaving. I’m looking forwards to the future I’m going to get time to spend with my sons and my ex-Mrs. I’d do anything I could for them.

*Names changed to protect anonymity.