Fundraising for a Counselling Support Legacy

Paul Harvey is a good friend of mine.  I met him in 2016 while working for a local counselling charity in Harlow.  He was a service user who had gone through a period of counselling and was now in recovery attending support groups.

Paul trained to become a peer mentor to give back to the charity that had helped save his life.  He supported me, the staff and other service users - telling his story and helping others see that by talking to someone, whether it be peers or counsellors, by reaching out and not isolating, you might find the answers you have been searching for to live life free of mental torture.

Paul was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia in 2018 and was given between 5-8 years to live.  

Paul became more determined than ever and after serving as a Trustee within the charity for a period of time, he was devastated when the charity closed due to lack of funding.

Paul is now passionate to leave a legacy and has launched a charity alongside myself - and wants to be able to see the charity help people like him before Lewy Body Dementia takes a hold of him.

Read his story below and help him achieve his ambition of creating a service for the Community:

If I hadn't have found someone to talk to.....I'd be dead now!  So when doctors told me that I had between 5-8 years left to live - I thought this was a chance I could not waste!

I suffered with depression from around the age of 25 and the only way I could make sense of life was to use alcohol.
 
Doctors told me I had pushed myself too far and my mind couldn’t cope and I needed help.  The more I couldn’t cope, the more I drank. 
 
I was told I was drinking too much alcohol and that I was now a borderline alcoholic.  I didn't really know what this meant.
 
I had a breakdown and tried to take my own life – even though my son was only six months old.  I honestly thought he would be better off without me.
 
I was admitted into the Dukes Priory in Chelmsford for six weeks, but I didn’t get any follow up treatment when I left.
 
I started drinking again to numb the pain in my head which led to a divorce from my first wife and losing my home.
 
I convinced myself that I was ok and just had to be strong, that I was coping and everything would be ok.  I met someone new and was married again, even though I was still struggling to cope with depression and my alcohol misuse.
 
My drinking was out of control and I tried to hide it all. I lost my sister to alcohol related illness and isolated myself from my parents.
 
A bottle of wine and a litre of whisky every night – all nights.  Somehow, I managed to stay alive, keep my own business running, stay married and outwardly smile.  

Somehow.
 
One day in 2015 I woke up and my wife was not there. She had left me and moved into a refuge - not because I was violent, but because she could not watch my drinking anymore.
 
There were arguments.  Rows.  Discussions. Promises.  My mind could not cope.  Alcohol seemed to be my only answer.
 
Finally, I admitted to myself that I had an issue that needed sorting - and not only a mental health issue, but added to that, an issue with alcohol as well now.  

I went and spoke to the doctor.
 
I was sent for tests on my liver.  I was told I needed to reduce slowly and not stop immediately as this was dangerous.   I was told I needed to drink but reduce my drink by 10% per week.
 
My wife told me she was not coming back until I had stopped drinking completely and no-one understood me when I said I had to cut down slowly.  They felt I was cheating. I felt I was cheating.  
 
I made a decision.  I was going to stop.  Dead.  And I nearly was!
 
I suffered withdrawal symptoms.  Vomiting.  Amnesia.  Sweating.  Hallucinations.  Blackouts.  Shaking.  I couldn't even eat or drink water.
 
I could have died.  I should have died.  Somehow, I survived.  The hard bit was now starting.  I had to live life in my own head without alcohol.
 
I was alcohol free.  Finally, I was ready for help.  Ready to be fixed.  Ready to talk.

I went to see a counsellor at ADAS – a local charity funded counselling service in Harlow.
 
Speaking with a counsellor enabled me to explore why I struggled with my mental health, how to live my life without self medicating with alcohol.....to find some peace. 

Joining a recovery group gave me the strength I needed when I realised I wasn’t the only one who suffered like this.
 
I found my soul again thanks to counselling and support groups. 

And then I was told that because I just stopped drinking alcohol so quickly, so dangerously quickly, I was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia.

I was told I had  a maximum of 8 years to live - with no promises of being able to remember anything as time went on.
 
Because of the counselling and recovery group I attended for over two years, I was able to take the positives out of this news and decided that instead of regressing, I would take control.  

I volunteered for ADAS by going into schools and educating people around mental health and alcohol.  The dangers of self medicating and going against sound advice.
 
In 2018 I found out that ADAS was going to close through lack of funding and this has driven me to launch a new charity  with my friend and colleague.
 
If someone like me could be saved and dragged back from the brink through counselling and peer support…..anyone could.
 
Now – I need your help.

I want to find a home for our charity.  To enable people to access counselling easily.  To help cover essential costs of a safe service.
 
I am on borrowed time.  But what time I have left are happy times because I was able to overcome my mental health and alcohol issues.  

My final wish is that The Recovery Community be the legacy I leave to help people not suffer like I did.  Like my family and friends around me did.  Like my children did.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

Within our local communities across the UK, there are so many of us struggling with the pressures of life.

Many people have to cope with crime, deprivation, anti-social behaviour, substance misuse and wider addiction issues, low income, poverty, unemployment, ill-health, skills and training shortages, housing issues and a feeling of detachment from society.

The list goes on.

Anyone who has experienced any of these can often suffer with well-being issues, which affects your mental health.

And it doesn't stop there.

Generally speaking, partners, children and wider family also suffer as well - and this can have long-lasting effects on everyone.

The vision is simple; to support any form of mental health and/or well-being issues through counselling and recovery support.

To cut out the long waiting lists and provide fully funded counselling and support to those who need it most. 

The Recovery Community  will help improve mental health & wellbeing and WILL SAVE LIVES - but we need a home!  

We need your help.

I'm hoping to raise enough money to secure a lease for a building for the charity to launch properly.  Currently we can help around 20-30 people a year.  With a building, we can help 200-300 people a year.

Thank you for visiting this page and taking the time to read this.  I am truly grateful if you choose to donate or share.

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Organizer

Adrian Lee 
Organizer
Harlow, ENG
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