A Suicide Survivors Story: From a mess to a success
After tragically losing his brother in a car accident in his teen years, 42-year-old entrepreneur Steve tells us his battle of trying to cope which had led to him trying to take his own life. He decided to seek help and is now on a journey to recovery.
How Walking 1,000 Miles From Lands End To John O’Groats Saved Me.
A tragic story
I’m a 42 year old entrepreneur, with two successful businesses, Mindcanyon, who are Mental Health education specialists, and “Steve Carr Mentoring”, who helps individuals that are suffering with corporate burnout, get back into the driving seat of their lives. I grew up in town called Swindon in Wiltshire, with my Mother, Father and siblings, Paul my elder brother by a year, and Claire my younger sister by a year.
Times were tough in my teenage years, I grew up in the 80’s on a rough council estate. It wasn’t easy, and I was subjected to many traumatic experiences from being mugged at 14 years old to seeing my mother and father beaten up.
We lived in a 3 bed terraced council house in the middle of a very rough street. I shared a bedroom with my brother, who I always thought was slightly odd as he used to listen to Heavy Metal; I on the other hand was into rave music, so it’s easy to see why we clashed.
On Friday 13th September 1991, when I was just 15 years old, my life changed irreversibly. My brother was tragically killed, along with four other children, by a reckless drunk driver in the Akers Way horror crash in Swindon.
Paula Barnes, 15, Belinda Brown, 19, Paul Carr, 16, Sheree Lear, eight, and seven-year-old Ian Lilley were playing on the grassed area off Akers Way when driver Shaun Gooch lost control of his car at high speed and crashed into the group of youngsters. The tragedy shook the community and provoked fury among campaigners who had long been calling for a lower speed limit and other safety measures on the road. My life and my families were torn apart.
That same morning my brother asked me if I wanted to meet him at the location he was killed at that evening, it was his girlfriend’s birthday, I remember saying no as I had other plans. I’ll remember that day for the rest of my life. After my brother’s death I received no support from trained professionals, due to my father’s decision to decline the offer of help. I chose instead to mask the trauma with alcohol, cigarettes and drugs.
My family life had changed, we were drifting apart, and it felt like we were all walking around in a daze. A year after the event and my family could no longer bear to be in the same house as we all grew up in, the memories were too raw – especially as I shared a bedroom with my brother, knowing I would never see him again was mental torture.
Losing control of my life
We moved to a beautiful little village on the outskirt of Swindon, but it didn’t ever feel like home without my brother. My family life got to the point where we were all fighting each other, because we didn’t know how to deal with the trauma and bereavement, my mother and father ended up divorcing. At 16 years old I was losing all control of my life and my father couldn’t deal with my erratic behaviour, told me that I had to leave as well. I was 16 years old with no clue about money, finances or the world, and I was being told I had to leave the family home.
This hit me like a brick.
I lost contact with my Mother, Father & Sister. I couldn’t hold onto any form of relationship for long periods of time due to the fear of loss and rejection. As fast as I was gaining friends, jobs and relationships, I was losing them.
During my early 30’s, things started to look up for me, I made contact with my father again and asked if I could come home to save for a house, I was so pleased when he said that I could. I was doing extremely well at this point, working as a Business Development Manager for a very large corporate company, I had my own house, car, and was in a happy relationship.
Lost it all
At this point I became a bit of a socialite, always out with friends parting and drinking at weekends, on one particular night out I was introduced to cocaine, I had one line and that was it, I was hooked. I started taking cocaine every day, I even took 20k equity out of my house to feed my habit, I quit my job, lost my partner, pushed my friends away stopped paying the mortgage, I would end up selling everything in my house to feed the habit. I remember sleeping in a sleeping bag on the floor of my house where I had sold everything. The house was eventually repossessed, I had lost it all.
I became homeless and was living on the streets, luckily only for a couple of nights as an old friend would come across me and help me out. How did I let my life get this way?
I was a homeless drug addict with nothing more than what I was wearing to my name. My habit continue until I was 39 years old, flitting in and out of jobs, unable to concentrate or forge any lasting relationships. I couldn’t stop what I was doing to myself, until one day I pushed it too far.
With a concoction of drugs & alcohol including Cocaine, Methadrone, & legal highs, I attempted to take my own life, three times in one month, I now knew I had to get help. I didn’t want to die, I just wanted the pain to end.
Acknowledging I need help
Going to my G.P was the only thing for it, that’s when I came clean, I sat in his office, shaking, barely being able to speak, shivering, I mustered up just enough courage to say ‘Please, Please, help me, I can’t go on like this, I don’t want to live like this, I’m a drug addict’, that was it, I had sad it out loud. I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted from my shoulders. This would start a process of therapy & clinical help, from Counselling, NLP, CBT, Hypnosis, Self and Personal Development.
I was diagnosed with high functioning Anxiety, Depression, Childhood Trauma, Stress and Borderline PTSD. The catalyst was remembering all the good times I had as a child, it sparked something in me, and I chose life.
I was offered medication, of which I declined, I wanted to take the holistic approach and find out what was going on in my mind, I wasn’t masking it further with prescription drugs. I chose to go cold turkey and walk the length of Britain to find out what help was available for me, and people like me who were suffering with Mental Health issues. 90 days of self-discovery and shaking, living in a tent and sleeping in weather conditions that would sink below -4 some nights.
Beginning the journey of recovery
My story was told on BBC and ITV news, nearly every BBC radio station and newspaper I could find that would publish it across the country. The help, support and assistance I received was staggering, it changed my life. On my return I knew it was just the beginning of my recovery.
I then went onto achieve the following, all in the name of Mental Health.
• Walked from Swindon to Downing Street to deliver a report on my findings from the walk, 70 miles.
• Cycled 7 countries in Europe in 11 days, raising money for charity, 1500 miles.
• Cycled from Liverpool to Lands End raising awareness for PTSD in 4 days, 350 miles.
• Cycled from Barcelona to Paris in 7 days raising awareness for social isolation over Christ-mas, 700 miles.
• Cycled for Swindon to the Lake-district for Mental Health Awareness Week 2016, 280 Miles.
• Ran up Snowdonia & Coppa Mountain in 1 day raising awareness for ADHD, 40 miles.
• Ran to Buckingham Palace from Hungerford for World Mental Health day 2017, 70 miles.
• Cycled to Buckingham Palace and back in 1 day for Mental Health week 2017, 140 miles.
• Cycled to France in 4 days, 385 miles.
Cycled non stop for 11hrs for world bipolar day 2018.
• Created Steve Carr Mentoring.
• Created Mindcanyon the Business, delivering Mental Health workshops and talks.
• Created Mindcanyon Mental Health & Mental Fitness community with nearly 11k members.
I’ve also qualified as a Private Pilot, a Youth Mental Health First Aider, as well as gaining Counselling and Coaching Skills, became a Facebook Power Administrator and Switch On To Swindon Ambassador.
I’m now 1 of the U.K’s most physically active Mental Health Campaigners, Inspirational Speaker & Mentor and Pilot, which has all been achieved as a result of losing everything.
These achievements have all been whilst in recovery, in just under 3 years.
Recovery is possible
Recovery is possible, especially when we are offered hope, support, time and love.
Not all mental health issues are permanent.
Starting a new life is exactly what I did, walking away from things and people that were no longer serving me.
I had a chance to start over, and I chose to.
I am the most important person in my world, I‘ve set healthy boundaries, I have amazing friends and a life I am now proud of.
I’m choosing to help others that are experiencing corporate burnout, just as I did, I know what it’s like, and I know how vital it can be to receive the right support at the right time when it happens.
Life is now truly spectacular.
If you can’t offer anything else, offer hope.