Colm's Story

After experiencing a nervous breakdown, Colm moved into The Gables and began to piece his life back together

Mentally and physically, Colm* is a different man. Today he is active, alcohol free and rebuilding his relationship with his father. As he puts it: “Those are some big bridges jumped right there!”

He openly confesses that coming to terms with the changes in his life haven’t been easy, but he also adds The Gables has been there for him, keeping him on track and helping him to access the support he needed.

Colm is very clear on this: “I don’t think it would be everywhere that would help me in the way the people here have and continue to do. All the staff are brilliant.

“As you’re aware, I never had any schooling because we were always travelling, there was never the opportunity and I just didn’t pick it up for myself, so I can’t read or write … yet the staff here gladly assist me with this, they always have time for me, they chat me through whatever I need to know and I really appreciate it, I really do!”

Now looking for his own flat locally, he is helping in the garden when he can and considering how he would like to spend his time. Talking about the many obstacles he has overcome, he has the following advice: “There’s only you—yourself—if you want to achieve something and you have a goal to reach. YOU have to be motivated to achieve the goal at the end of the day. The staff are always there to help, but number one is wanting to do it and doing it!

“I may not always show it, but I really do appreciate it. I’m thankful and so very grateful for everything The Gables have done for me and with me, I’ll not be forgetting about it.”

October 2019

I’ve been at The Gables for six months, I think. I was in Liverpool first, then I moved to Coventry and then I moved here.

I had a nervous breakdown in Warwickshire and I ended up on the mental health ward.

When it was time to leave, I came here. The staff here is beautiful, yeah? You’ve got a roof over your head and I try to keep it as clean as possible. I bought some furniture, the wardrobe was already here …

I went through a divorce, I kinda lost everything.

I was 28 year married and I still love me wife, but she went with somebody else and I didn’t know nothing about it. Then behind me back she divorced me. Well, she put in for a divorce and she paid for the solicitor and so forth, and I didn’t know nothing.

One day, in Liverpool a solicitor came to the door and said: ‘There are some papers for you to sign.’

I said: ‘What’s these about?’

He said: ‘It’s a divorce.’

She was in the kitchen! It just came as such a shock, but I’m getting over it.

Plus, I’ve got two kids, the youngest is 21, the oldest is 23, that’s caused me heartbreak as well …

I signed the papers, it was pointless prolonging it. She’d made her mind up. There was nothing I could do about it. As I say, it came as such a surprise, we were on holiday only a couple of days before. It just came as a shock, I suppose it’s not the first and it’s not going to be the last. This happens to people every day unfortunately. I just didn’t know what way to take it, you know? I didn’t know how to control me feelings and stuff.

Then I started on the alcohol which wasn’t a good idea.

I’ve never taken drugs so that’s one good thing, but obviously the alcohol’s my problem. At the time when you’re drinking it seems to help, but the next day its twice as worse because you’ve got a hangover and obviously mental problems as well.

At first, it was very severe, you know? It was whiskey, brandy, vodka, mainly spirits. I wasn’t really used to spirits. I’d just drink until I got drunk and perhaps go to sleep, but I could go to sleep out there, on the path, you know? That’s the way it was … but yeah, I’ve cut off the spirits, I don’t touch them anymore, but I’m still having beer.

I don’t go to Alcohol Anonymous and stuff like that. It’s not that I don’t support them, they’ll just tell you things that you’re obviously aware of. It’s not that it’s difficult, it’s just that it’s common sense what they’re trying to tell you, you know? As I say I’ve come to terms with my alcohol, I know it’s not the future and I know what I’ve got to do to control it. I know that the alcohol is not the way forward.

I’m trying to get back on me feet, trying to get back in with me family and stuff—I’ve got seven brothers and four sisters. Most of my brothers are in Canada and Australia at the moment and me father lives in Bristol. He’s rung three or four times asking me to come over, or did I want him to come over and collect me? But I’m not in the right state of mind yet, I’m still drinking although I don’t want to. Plus, I don’t want to give him the hassle to be quite honest. Mentally and also physically. I don’t want to put the burden on anybody else. Touch wood, I’m trying to get there, you know? Because I can’t see myself ending up here.

Life here is as good as it gets!

There’s only six people here and there’s two kitchens. You respect other people’s space, don’t you? You know what I mean, you don’t want to be face on! You say hello and bye or how are you or just be polite and civil, like most of us are here.

I go to see my friend across the way, because he’s been here since I’ve been here and sometimes we’ll walk together into town. It’s a bit of fresh air, it’s different to the room and your telly and stuff.

The staff here are all so helpful. Plus, I have another lady who comes out to see me, she wants us to go for a walk today … All the staff, no matter what you ask, they’ll always try and help. Especially Liz, she goes out of her way to help you, she really does. She’s always there if you want to talk and she’s always checking to make sure you’re OK.

We‘ve been talking together about me doing some charity work, you know, because I can’t really work that much to be quite honest. I’ve got COPD and my legs, I can’t stand up that long. Money is a problem, I’m financially embarrassed, though it’s not really about the money at the moment. It’s about trying to get myself mentally and physically right, you know? ‘Cos all the money in the world is no good to you if you haven’t got your health—not that I have any at the moment! But I’m just saying, it’s no good to you if you’re not physically and mentally stable.

I want to occupy my mind and I wouldn’t mind doing that, at least I’d be putting something back in the community or something like that, you know? It’s one step forward, isn’t it?

*Name changed for anonymity.

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