“I’ve got the support I deserve” – Bryan’s story


Bryan, our 2023 Supporter of the Year, writes about his journey living with anxiety, depression and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). With support from his family and Rethink services, Bryan has become The Walking Man from Bristol, walking miles to raise money for severe mental illness.

I’ve been struggling with my mental health from the tender age of five years old, battling ongoing anxiety since 1989. At the age of 15, I was first put on antidepressants because I was experiencing symptoms of low mood, short temper, nervousness and thoughts of ending my life.

When I was 18, my PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) was triggered by a near-fatal traumatic industrial incident, where my right forearm was wrapped around a big industrial pillar drill. I was pulled into the machine, lifted into the air and swung around like a rag doll. My bones were sticking out of my forearm. I already had some degree of social anxiety creeping in because of being bullied, which led to very low mood and depression. It was bad and it only got worse as I grew older.

I had counselling for my PTSD, but that was about it. To this day I still can’t watch certain TV programs because it makes me shake and feel like it’s happening again, like my right forearm is getting tangled into a machine. Most weeks I have horrific nightmares and sweats, as the dreams feel very real and it makes me cry. It’s gotten better over the years but you never get over such trauma.

  • It’s gotten better over the years but you never get over such trauma.

Now in my 40s, I'm on two antidepressants and two antipsychotic pills a day, the latter being prescribed to me in 2022. I'm very highly medicated now, my pills getting stronger with higher dosages, but I'm stable. It's possible I'm bipolar or schizophrenic. My family has been told this and now I’ve been given the definite diagnosis of psychotic depression. I only had two episodes of psychotic depression, but they were the scariest because I was convinced people wanted to kill me, and I was hearing and seeing things.

People need to understand and know the difference between mental health and mental illness. Everyone has mental health, but people can develop mental illness. I try very hard to get this message out there and explain the difference. In this day and age, there is way too much stigma attached to people who have severe mental illnesses.

This is my life now, but it's stable and I'm living my best life. I've got the support that I deserve through Bristol Community Services, Rethink Mental Illness. I have a great relationship with my GP, psychiatrist, slimming group because they have seen me from rock bottom to now. I chose to help myself because I have a little boy, and I want to see him do good and not have the life I've had.

  • Everyone has mental health, but people can develop mental illness.

I get sick and tired of the stigma that people suffering from mental illness have to put up with. There are so many different degrees of this horrible illness, but what you can do is help yourself and give yourself the best possible quality of life. And that is exactly what I intend to do. I’m a human being that deserves to be here as much as anyone.

Nobody really knows what I’ve gone and still go through, as no one knows what it’s like to walk in my shoes. I intend to spread awareness by being honest and open about my journey, and to make a positive impact on others.

One of the ways I do this is through my Facebook page, called ‘The Walking Man from Bristol’, which has gained followers from all over the world. Fundraising for Rethink Mental Illness has also given me a purpose in life to support and help fellow sufferers. I’ve met so many great people who work for Rethink, who have made me feel safe and a part of the Rethink family.

You may also be interested in