Shaun's Story

“Being here helps to motivate me"

Shaun moved into VSA’s Arrdeir House in 2020. He recently shared his journey in life and how VSA has managed to support and encourage him.

Growing up in Aberdeen within a close family of five, Shaun initially worked as a fish filleter when leaving school before drugs sadly had an impact on his life.

Shaun Said: “I was 17 when I first started using drugs, starting with cannabis, and by the age of 19-20, I was taking heroin”, he explains. “From there, I was using heroin for around 10 or 12 years.”

“Looking back, it wasn’t good times and it was a shame to have put my family through that – and just with the addiction, I became a thief and was in a bad way”.

The years that followed were difficult for Shaun. He went on to spend a short time in prison and six years at Cornhill Hospital. “In prison, I found it tough. I also started hearing voices in my head and needed help. After assessment and seeing a Psychiatrist, I was later admitted to Cornhill.”

“The voices used to be really bad. There would be two of them, a good voice and a bad one. The bad voice would always try to put me down, and the good one would try to bring me back up again. They would argue a lot, making it hard for me to focus on anything.

It made me feel bad about myself too. It sometimes made it hard to be around others and speak to people. Since being at Arrdeir, the voices haven't been as bad as they used to be. In the recent months, they sound more like chit chat in the background.”

After an assessment process, Shaun moved into Arrdeir House in late 2020.

“They started helping me when I moved into Arrdeir. I really like it here, there are people around me all the time for support because I don’t like being on my own. I can do things and go places on my own too, and I always know there will be someone back at Arrdeir who is interested to listen to how my day has been.”

“I can't hear one specific voice anymore or make out what they are saying. I just woke up one day and they were gone. I was so happy when I couldn't hear the two voices anymore. It makes it a lot easier to focus on things and have conversations with people. I am not as distracted as before."

“Being here helps to motivate me, I get on well with everyone, we all have a brunch club each Friday as well as takeaways on special occasions. We have a cat here too, and he is great company!”

Shaun also enjoys spending time playing darts with other service users and staff and going to watch football. He has found new hobbies at Arrdeir, including drawing, yo-yo-ing, and collecting football shirts and caps.

“We spend time in the garden, can go out for nice long walks here and every so often I can go along to Pittodrie too – either with my dad or a member of staff.”

Now aged 43, Shaun, who also has a daughter, believes that the future looks good for him.

Due to having type 2 diabetes, Shaun’s current goals are to lose weight and develop a more diabetes-friendly diet along with a set meal routine as he feels this will benefit his overall health.

Supported with his weekly shop, staff have been supporting Shaun to determine which food items are better for his diabetes and why some other foods aren’t. Furthermore, he is now joining his fellow residents for the evening meal and trying new things on the menu that staff prepare.

Shaun is extremely proud of being able to stay away from using drugs, having struggled with addiction for many years.

He feels that this is the best that he has been in a long time and that staff are always there to talk through his urges as and when they arise.

“I don’t think much about drugs at all anymore, and I am much happier for it". Shaun sees this as one of his greatest achievements and wants to feel this way about his diet. “This feeling of accomplishment is the motivation to make some changes.”

“I really enjoy being here – I really enjoy the fellowship.”

Arrdeir House is one of VSA’s city based residential mental wellbeing facilities that provide 24 hour support for people living with severe or enduring mental health conditions. These facilities are a mix of rehabilitation and long term placement.

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