When Richard found himself overwhelmed with health issues, including a rare medical condition, it took a big toll on his mental health, eventually making him homeless. Staying at our Endsleigh Gardens hostel in Camden has helped him rebuild his life. This is his story.
In 2017 I got a rare type of pneumonia. So rare they want to write about me.
Before that I’d lived with my parents for well over 15 years, in their lounge. Then I left and went to live with a partner. But when I ended up in hospital, and everything started going wrong.
The pneumonia was bad. They say I might even be the first person in the world to have the symptoms I had.
But while I was in hospital with that, they found I also had a blood clot in my kidney. They couldn’t decide how to treat me – one department wanted to do one thing to help my kidneys, but the people dealing with my lungs wanted to do something else.
I ended up losing my kidney. That, the pneumonia, and then getting told I had a chronic condition that meant my other kidney only was only working at 30% – it was a really difficult time.
I had all these scars from the operations. They made me feel really self-conscious. And splitting up with my partner as well at the same time made it too much.
That year I took three overdoses. I went into a mental health unit where I was sectioned and that’s where I started drinking.
When you have depression, alcohol is really no good. But I struggled trying out all the different medications – we got there finally, but the process of getting there was really hard.
Once the medication started working, I moved into Endsleigh Gardens.
Since moving in here, the biggest change is my appearance. By that I mean – before, you just wouldn’t have seen me! At first I wouldn’t even come out of my room. I used to stay in and drink. Around six months after I moved in, I came down at night for the first time and someone thought I’d only just arrived.
But the staff here are always lovely, always sorting things and asking if you want to do things. My support worker, Maria, seems like she’s won the lottery every day. Always smiling.
I tell her things I didn’t think I would tell her – or anyone. Before I kept everything bottled up and that’s where the depression came in. It would just build. She’s so friendly, you just open up.
Once I some of my things went missing. Before, I wouldn’t have said anything. I would’ve let it all pile up, become too much, and overdosed or something like that. But I told Maria. Things like that, it’s real. I can really open up.
Eventually I went to a residents’ meeting where we decide what things we’re going to do. We go to theme parks, go karting – but personally, my favourites are the museums and galleries. I love art.
Now I have so much going on. I’m a Client Rep, we’re off to Brighton and maybe Paris later in the year and I’m training to do the Ben Nevis Challenge with St Mungo’s.
I mean, I couldn’t ask for any more from the help that I’ve been given.
It’s been so nice but I’m hoping to get my own place.
I miss my possessions – I collect art and have loads and loads of paintings. It’d be great to have them up in my own place.
We’re in the process, me and Maria. I’ve done a course in coping on your own, dealing with depression, stuff like that, and we’ve filled in nearly everything now. Maybe six months ago, I don’t think I would’ve been able move on but now I’m ready to take the next step.
Onwards and upwards.
Our 50 year history is filled with some extraordinary people. To mark our anniversary, we will be profiling 50 Lives throughout 2019 – a snapshot of those who have played their part in our story. You can read the stories on our website at www.mungos.org/50-lives.