It was only me that could get through to her, I’d go to the care home and talk to her. I was the only person she trusted. Get her to put a drip on, take her medication. That was the toughest because every time I used to go, especially when she was in the psychiatric unit it would put me on a downer.
When you’ve got depression it comes from within your stomach. It’s an illness that you can’t fucking shut out. A dark cloud comes over you that you can’t get away from. People say that you should talk to people but talking about it is the hardest part when you’re in that place. What you want to do is get away from people.
You could be with friends and you feel like you’re outside the window looking through it. You’re not there, you’re not part of it. You don’t belong there, you don’t want to be part of it. You struggle to stay in conversation with people. You could be talking away but your mind is somewhere else.
You don’t really like anyone but you don’t really like yourself. For years I was full of self loathing. I hated the world, I hated my life and I hated my mum’s illness. I hated my dad not fucking being there. When he died I felt that he left me with the shit. When she died I hated that it took so long for her to die. I’d kind of wish sometimes she would die to save all the fucking shit kind of thing. Which made me feel worse.
It was years of turmoil, a tough relationship and a really hard relationship. It was how I felt when I came away from a visit, I always felt really down, it put me in a bad place every time.
I’d go home and start drinking or sniffing to stop me thinking about it. It took me nearly two years to get out.
I graduated from uni back in 2009 with a degree in youth justice, I spent six years doing it. When I came out of prison I was in limbo, Either go back to my old ways or go straight. My Brother got me a job on the gas but I got made redundant and I thought, that’s just my fucking luck. People used to say that I’d be great with kids. I knew I had the experience but I had no qualifications. I signed up to the Open University, do the fucking degree and use my life experience to get a job and that’s what I did in the end.
Even though I had a record, the fact that I had such a lot of life experience and that I had graduated they welcomed me with open arms.
I was born addicted to heroin because my mum was a user, I had to have a vitamin K injection when I was born to stop me shaking like a bag head. I spent the first four years of my life in Bredbury with my Mum and Dad then he died of an overdose. I remember helping him fix scooters and riding on them with him.
When I went off my head a bit I kind of just stayed away from my friends. I just didn’t speak to them for whatever reason.
I got diagnosed with paranoid psychosis, anxiety and depression
I was answering the door with hammers, I didn’t believe my kids belonged to me, I thought everything was a big conspiracy. No matter what anyone said to me I didn’t believe them. Jenny kept telling me that I was imagining things but I thought she was in on it.
When I was fifteen I lived in Germany and Belgium. I got sent to live with my uncle Harry who was in the army. He was a tank commander so he’d teach the soldiers how to drive the challengers and scorpion tanks. I didn’t like him, he was very militant. I lived in the cellar in his house. It had five bedrooms but we had to live in the cellar.
I went to prison in my teenage years, I had a fight on the A6, some guy tried to stab me… I just went to town on him basically. I got six months but I ended up doing three months extra for fucking about in prison.
I got on well with everyone in prison, the inmates thought I was daft as a brush but I was always in trouble because I couldn’t keep my mouth shut. Not with the prisoners, more with the prison staff. It was an anti establishment thing. I took the piss out of them.
I was from Manchester and most of the prison officers were from Liverpool. My last name is Trafford and they hated me.
My best friend killed himself, I was with him the night that he died. I kind of blame myself because he asked me to stay with him but obviously my own family was my priority so I went home. He didn’t seem upset that night but I blame myself because maybe if I was there it wouldn’t have happened but he’d hung himself off the door in his house.
The consultant said that I’d had a lot of traumatic events in my childhood but anything can trigger it. Jennie’s Daughter Alex had a birth at twenty three weeks. I carried the coffin, it was very small, it fucked my head up a bit, I never thought it would.
I spent the best years of my life around Heaton Chapel and the links to the people there have come back tenfold in my life.
I’ve lived all over, I went to sixteen different schools because my Dad was a big angry, violent, corrupt dominating force in our lives. Wherever he wanted to go we went with him. There wasn’t any choice.
‘My Dad’s in a bit of bother, we’ve got to go’.
He was always protective of us to outsiders but he wasn’t very protective towards us inside the home.
He was the only person in the world that I was scared of, it wasn’t just me. The whole town and the whole city was fucking scared of him. I don’t fear anything other than upsetting him or bringing the police to the door. I brought them back a couple of times which was out of my control but it wouldn’t just be a slap, it was a full blooded fucking smack off a twenty two stone bloke and that was throughout growing up.
Would I say that was correct, I’m not sure, but it has had a massive impact on how I’ve acted in my own life and how far I’ve gone, the shit I’ve had to unpick.
They say in the animal kingdom they have alphas and betas but you also have apex alphas, in my world you have apex alphas like the great white shark, there are some tough beans in that sea but the deadliest is the great white shark, nothing is fucking with it!
For me, growing up in Heaton Chapel, we had certain friends, tough blokes, tough kids. I think it was quite rare because we were all alphas. We all had leadership ability but we respected each other. That’s why we have such a strong bond to this day. Those people protected me in a way, they didn’t know it because when they would see me around the local shops laughing and joking I was really broken.
My mum had left because my Dad threw his weight around. That’s why we went to so many schools, Mum would leave and take the kids, my Dad would find her, take the kids back, then we would move house.
He never blamed himself.
Dad would buy a farm, there you go, a big farm, Fukin Hell. Who gets to live on a farm? but it was chaos. We’d go to a new school, then my dad would do what he does again, my mum would leave again, take us with her, then he’d blame the farm so we never settled.
We had to be able to cope anywhere, like a new school, and know how to handle ourselves. You had to learn, to survive. A lot of it was a facade. A new kid starting a new school, you feel uneasy, it’s like starting a new job or going to an interview… You want to fit in. And that’s what I learned to do.
I learned to be a bit of a chameleon, you could put me in a corporate meeting or an old peoples home and I’ll steal the room, put me on a football pitch as captain and I’ll command the team. I think it comes from the way I was raised and had to adapt, some people can get swallowed by it. If you’re continually beaten and told your nothing like I was, you can either accept it and have no belief but I chose another route, I chose to surround myself with leaders.
Characters that will be with me forever, they moulded me and they helped me without knowing what they did. I’m so grateful to these people and I now see them on a daily basis.
At one point in my life I did sink. I was seventeen, I didn’t really drink, I lived with an alcoholic who was fucking handy and I didn’t want to be that. I couldn’t wait to start a family because I had a blueprint of how not to be a parent. Do the absolute opposite of him and I’ll be successful.
I met my first wife in a nightclub, we just hit it off, we couldn’t keep our hands off each other. After two weeks, she was pregnant for five years.
She’s from Salford, we tried living in Stockport first, we got a small place in Lancashire Hill flats. I was always out though, by the time the honeymoon period wore off my friends would convince me to go out and I’d go missing, that’s when I started experimenting with drink and drugs.
We eventually upgraded to a house that my Dad owned, then we moved again, we had our second child towards my twenties and then she got caught again. One day she went missing. I was boozing pretty heavily, it caught up on me. I didn’t really check myself. I’d go missing at the weekend then start having a few beers after work, all of a sudden two turned to four, four turned to six, you wake up feeling rough then weekend would come and I’d be on the missing list again.
My wife told me that she needed help from her Mum and wanted to move back to Salford. She was right. I needed to grow up a bit. We were two kids bringing up kids and I didn’t help situations with what I was doing. We eventually moved to Salford and rented a lovely house.
Once I landed there my dog got nicked, my bike got nicked and my car got nicked… I just felt like a victim. I didn’t have the influence that I did in Stockport, I had no security blanket and my life spiralled out of control.
I lost my job, my driving licence, I was in and out of court, fighting with people, trying to stake my claim like I had done at home.
Before I knew it I was out of control, I had issues with my weight which was hard because I always took care of myself, I always had nice girlfriends, I always dressed nice, I was always in good shape.
At that point in my life I was alone. I missed my best friend Chris, he was my wing man, we were unstoppable but I was away from it. The drinking got worse, smoking weed, I just lost control. I used to look in the mirror and be devastated with myself, I’d think what’s fucking happened to you!
I came back to Stockport and went in the pub with my shorts and vest, my friend shouted ‘Fucking Hell its Captain Pugwash’
It stuck in my mind and I remember going back to Salford, not blaming my friends but it was a trigger point. Anything I ate to take hunger away. I used to put my fingers down my throat to get rid of it, and that was my thing.
I’d be drinking but every nutrient in my body was getting thrown back up and all the bad stuff was staying in.
Before I knew it I was drinking in the morning just to get through the day, standing in a bus queue was hell, to think about being in a crowded place was a nightmare. It was my personal hell. I was hidden away from the world, I stopped playing football, I stopped going back to Stockport, I just hid myself away in Salford and it was just slip slip slip.
It’s kind of a haze but I remember waking up to a doctor at the side of my bed and telling my Mrs to ring 999 because I was ready for the off. I woke up in Hope hospital on a Liver ward where I saw people dying. People bleeding from the eyes where their liver had burst.
It was a combined accumulation of lack of nutrients in my body as well as fucking poison with drink. It was the same thing everyday, waking up shaking, having a drink. Going to have my breakfast… My mind was in complete chaos! And this chameleon person didn’t have any way of being me anymore. I had no confidence, it took them all away. I couldn’t face the world.
Again it’s a bit of a haze, I snook beers into my suitcase, it must have been a bit of a panic when the ambulance was coming and I remember waking up in the middle of the night in hospital and cracking another one open.
I was about eight stone, my skin was yellow, my eyes were yellow, my body was shutting down and I was twenty two years old.
It was all a haze to me until about a year later when it finally hit home ‘Fuck, where have I been’. It took me a while to get back to myself, I wasn’t working and I fell back into it, only this time I was hiding it because it wasn’t acceptable with my Mrs, then the eating problems came back.
I’m in control now but I need to be, because I know I can easily be out of control. I don’t trust myself, I need to constantly check myself, whether that’s going to the gym too much, drinking too much Vimto or watching too much TV, concentrating on work too much. not concentrating enough on my kids and Mrs. Everything is balanced, it has to be balanced because if it isn’t it doesn’t work in my world.
I absolutely love waking up in the morning and attacking the day, I love to see what the day will bring.
I found myself not being able to hold onto the greasy pole but I’ve got to a place in my life where my kids like having me with them, when they go out, they want to be with me because they like showing me off and it’s a nice thing. I like coming home to a nice home with a lovely Mrs that looks after me.
I know now that I have a good heart where at one stage I didn’t, I was feral because I was raised like a fucking spartan.
We suffered a lot of hardships as kids but I look at what I did with boxing. I coach professional boxers through to white collar, I’ve been in situations where round 1 has gone, i’ve trained the fighter, they’ve had a hard time and his belief is gone.
My Granddaughter is the highlight of my life, she made me better I’ll be honest. I wouldn’t let anybody hurt her. She’s a rock. She’s the happiest little girl and she makes everybody around her happy. She makes me happy because nothing is false, she’s a little girl.
I was an only child and I liked my own space, I still like my own space. My Sons, I didn’t see very much because I was in the army. At the time you don’t realise that you’re missing your own kids growing up. When I came out of the army, my eldest Son was in the army and my youngest was living with his wife. He got battered down the garden for stealing from my Mum. I’ve not seen him since 1989. He was naughty from an early age, he started stealing and it just went on and on. He eventually got eight years in Parkhurst prison. He was sent there from Strangeways because he was so violent. He was a thug, thief and drug addict, or he was. I can’t say now because I haven’t seen him.
I suppose the worst thing about being in the army was seeing my mates killed. We were in Belfast and they got blown up in a sangar. They were protecting a building and someone ran past and threw a grenade in. That wasn’t a good point because we had to go and get them out.
When South Africa went to war with Angola, Namibia was in the middle and we were sent there to train the Namibian defence force. We’d need to go over the border into Angola, it was basically the government against mercenaries at the time. They were trying to take power in Angola and South Africa didn’t want that. There is a long road in Namibia that comes from South Africa, I think it’s seventeen hundred miles straight.
We used to see the Namibian defence forces over the border because we were training them, basically for observations and reconnaissance patrols. You would see Namibian bodies strapped to the side of the wagons over the front fender. I asked why they were there and I was told that they stop the flies going into the vehicles.
That was a low point of being in the army, when I got depression, they didn’t record it as PTSD, I was shot at a couple of times in Northern Ireland plus all of the riots where we had bricks and molotov cocktails thrown at us. You do train for it, I went to a place in Germany called Tin City where you get another regiment throwing shit at you but in Northern Ireland they really wanted to do it, they really wanted to hurt people.
When I left the army I was working for the Police, I’m not one of those that instantly goes off, I don’t go off the boil. I’m quite level headed. I was getting more and more annoyed and angry with people. I couldn’t work out what it was. I knew I was having flashbacks. I went in work on a Friday, the photocopier wasn’t working so I launched the fucking thing across the room. They told me to go home and not to come back until I was ok. I was off for five months.
I didn’t want any company, my Mrs kept telling me to snap out of it. It’s easy to say but not easy to do!
At my lowest point, I’d go walking the dog and I remember sitting on a bench at the Common in Wilmslow, with the dog lead thinking I was going to hang myself. That’s how low I got.
I don’t know why, but for some reason I felt selfish because someone would find me. Somebody will see you hanging there dead. Then I thought I’d go to the Police station at night with my car and gas myself. But then I thought that my friends would find me. That’s when I started to try to turn things around. I wasn’t bothered about dying. I was off for another couple of months, I saw a counsellor but the questions they were asking were stupid in my opinion.
When I started with the flashbacks, they came at night, but then they got worse and worse until I was getting them in the day. Even now if someone drops something sharp then I flinch.
It doesn’t depress me but for that split second it scares me. Like when the first firework goes off outside, once they start going off I’m not bothered but the first banger that goes off I’m virtually under the table. I’m worse than a dog.
In past wars people got shot for cowardice, and it was never cowardice. It was PTSD, you get an overload in your brain and that’s what happened with me. Twice I’ve been off with depression.
I don’t think people who commit suicide are selfish because the overload is terrible.
My Son died at the age of forty four, I was sixty five and I just thought that life wasn’t fair. Why him and not me? I’d have happily gone if it meant that he had a good life. The initial grief was a pure outburst and it lasted for about fifteen minutes. Uncontrollable sobbing. After that I just put the walls up. I don’t like people hugging me because I don’t want to be touched. It makes me angry.
I’ve lived my life, I had time to come out of the army and get on with my life and that poor little lad is gone and it isn’t right. He had three brain tumour’s and they gave him eighteen months to live and he died within four.
It ripped me up inside and I think about him all of the time. I think about my Dad all of the time, I think of the lads in Northern Ireland.
The Nineteen year old that joined the Police is very different than the thirty eight year old I am now. I was brash and bold. Everything a teenager should be. Should i have gone in that young. Not a prayer. I’ve seen things and done things, got a family. The decisions I made then I wouldn’t make now. Doing what I do, you see a different side of things.
The cops never knock on someone’s door to tell them something good. It’s been death and destruction for nineteen years.
I can’t remember large parts of my youth. Sometimes my friends will talk about things I just can’t remember. I did some research and I think it’s a form of PTSD.
Death, destruction, losing my Dad, I think I block out lots of stuff.
I’m supposed to run a shift of sixty Police officers, I don’t want the stigma of having help for my mental health. I worry what will happen if I do. If I open the floodgates, what will happen, will I be able to cope. What I’m doing now is working for me. I can process stuff.
If I let someone inside, will I crumble?
Losing my Dad so young didn’t affect me at first, I went back to work after a few days and the first job I dealt with was a death. It didn’t really hit me nor do I think it has, that worries me.
I was thirty when my Son came along, it changed my outlook because everything became about him, my Wife and family. It calmed me down.
That business that I was running, selling commercial fridges online, when I first started we did alright, then there was the financial crisis and we spent a couple of years trying to get through that, after the crisis everything was going well but after a while a lot of the bigger more traditional companies started doing the same types of thing. I was only a small outfit employing a couple of people. Our turnover was good but as things progressed our margins on the products we were selling were getting smaller and smaller. We were selling more. The orders and sales were good but we were not making enough money.
We got into a situation where we had bigger and bigger accounts but we couldn’t get enough on the sales. We were getting chopped to bits on the profit of the sales. I’d built the website, spent hours putting all of the products on there, did all the consultations, all of the design. I was selling the products too. We brought in a couple of staff members and eventually there wasn’t enough money in the business as time went on.
I ultimately made the decision that I wanted a change, I could see where it was going. My quality of life had deteriorated. I went through a period where there was lots of business coming in but I wasn’t in the position to bring in the staff that I wanted to. It was essentially just me. I didn’t go on holiday, had no time off, when I did have a break I was on my phone working. Even when me and my girlfriend at the time went away for a weekend it was just impossible. Something needed to change.
The rewards were not there but the stress was there. We could get the work but we had to cut ourselves to the bone to do it and that just wasn’t sustainable. It got to the point where one of our biggest suppliers wanted the account settled and it was like sixty thousand pounds and they wanted it all immediately.
In my personal life I become quite difficult to deal with, I was angry and irritable, taking it out on other people which wasn’t fair. I’d fallen out with my Dad about it and we were working in the same office but not talking.That added to the stress.
In terms of how I dealt with it, I turned into a different character for a while. It got to a stage where I’d lose my temper in the office, throw things around and smash things up. Things tipped me over the edge. I tried to prop the business up with my own cash as well as the credit.
I decided to liquidate the company within a few days.
I felt guilty because I had a couple of people working for me but deep down I did feel that they could do better than working for me. The way it happened did make me feel guilty.
With friends, because I was seeing people less, when I did see them, I Didn’t want to go on about how shit everything was because I didn’t want to ruin their time. You start bottling everything up then.
Even now, I’m still a little bit reluctant to talk about things.
What happened to me happens to people everyday. Some people start again and carry on but I wanted to do something completely different.
I wanted to do something that was going to get me out of bed every morning, a profession where I was trained to do something and I could go into a workplace and do it.
I’d done a little bit of journalism at university and I felt that broadcasting would give me more options such as working in radio or TV so I decided to go down that route.
I was hoping to make a transition, it just happened a bit quicker than I wanted it. I’m glad I did it but I felt working at the BBC, because of my age and going in at quite a low level. I felt like a bit of an imposter. It felt weird doing low level jobs in mid to late thirties, the average age of people doing the same job was mid to late twenties but I needed to start somewhere. I found the learning curve quite gradual. You need to learn the ropes, it’s a big organisation and I had to get to grips with it.
I didn’t like people knowing how old I was.
You assess things and you get to a point where you have a decision to make, you consider whether it’s right. I imagine that comes from my parents. I am impulsive sometimes, beer can help let things out, grace the monotony of the daily, boring chores that you need to go through. If I had any tips about life, it would be to surround yourself with people that you enjoy being with.
I grew up on a council estate but it was probably the most social I’ve ever experienced.
I was Eighteen and started playing football with the adults. I was a young lad mixing with fully grown men, tough men brought up on council estates who don’t suffer fools. They didn’t have any animosity, they weren’t afraid of anything. Other people’s opinions didn’t bother them. And when they were in each other’s company, they had each other to back themselves up.
That type of attitude rubs off. You get to a point in your life where you go from a shy teenager to a confident young man. I don’t worry about people’s opinions, others don’t worry so why should I.
The best thing about football is the people. You’d play a match, go back to the pub and be there all afternoon. We’d talk about shite and play cards, take the piss out of each other. Every football team had characters that stood out. Some had two or three. Someone would always have a story to be discussed.
If I could instil anything in my Son it would be self confidence. I didn’t have it when I was younger. I wanted to be an electrician when I left school and work for myself because that’s where the money was. I got convinced to take a job because I was good at it but I wish I’d stuck to my original plan because then I wouldn’t need to rely on anything apart from my own capabilities.
I regret splitting up with my first wife. I think it was because of football. I was getting drunk after the match, I was playing on a Saturday and Sunday. And if it was someone’s birthday I’d guarantee to be out on a Friday or Saturday.
I didn’t spend enough time with her, As well as playing football I was working until 7:30 most evenings. By the time I got home she’d be making tea and I’d bathe my Son. It got to the stage where we didn’t have any quality time and we didn’t appreciate each other.
I did have regrets but I don’t now. I’ve got Joe, Grace and my Wife Rose. If things didn’t happen the way they did then I wouldn’t have them. I wouldn’t go back in time and change things.
I used to look after Jack two or three days a week and his Mum was brilliant, she’s a great woman. I was very fortunate because she could have been the complete opposite.