Market Town : Simon & Kirsty : A prison without walls
Si, Kirsty and Bandit. 2012.
Si : “My life, now, pretty shit, to be honest. I was born with a hair lip, cleft lip, got brought up without a dad, my mum was my rock, my soul mate, my father, my mother all in one. Loads of blokes coming in and out which I didn’t like as I was the man of the house then, so I just rebelled. Been locked up a few times in police cells, went to prison for various offenses, driving offenses, fighting, a lot. I went to jail for about six months but was let out after 3 for good behavior.”
“Mum passed away, Feb 4th, 2010, cancer of the liver, that was really hard. My life just turned upside down, as she became more and more ill I had to be there for her and it was really hard. I was like her carer I presume, then she passed away and that’s when life started turning really bad. It ripped my heart out. It knocked me for six, I have to admit. She was there for me, no matter what, she was always there for me, never judged me. The only thing she did judge me about was my cannabis intake, which I stopped for six, seven years but ever since she’s been gone I’ve hit it again.”
Cushion made by Si’s late mother.
Kirsty, Bandit and Si. 2012.
Kirsty, Si’s wife. 2012.
Kirsty : “Mum had epilepsy and we moved house when I was very little, two years old and I think the stress was too much for her. She forgot to take her meds and was washing her hair in the bath, had a seizure and she drowned. All I really know about her was that she loved roses.”
“My childhood was just absolutely shit. Me and my brother used to go into foster care a lot because dad couldn’t cope with us because of his alcohol. One day I must have pissed him off and he passed me the house phone and said ‘Ring the welfare people.’ and I didn’t want to but he did it, just for me to go, mind you, not my brother. So, I went into care. That really messed me up, I was 14.”
Kirsty, explaining the causations of her self harming.
Kirsty : “I told my social worker not to take me back home but they did. They said ‘You’ve turned 16 and there’s nothing to be done for you now so you’ll have to go back to your dad.’ I tried to make excuses not to go back but it never worked. I was out morning, afternoon, evening, drinking, just to stay away.”
“I tried to explain all these things to my friends but no one listened. I ran away from my dad 20 times and my dad said ‘If I ring the police again they are not going to bother looking for you.’ so I just ran away again, just to get away from him. It was really bad. One time I remember we went camping and we walked home and he suddenly threw me from one side of the room to the other. He was a nasty piece of work, he still is.”
“I was just down all the time after my mum died. I think it’s because of my dad as well, really. He’s not a very supportive dad, one of those dad’s that likes to put people down all the time. (The first time) I self harmed I was 12, 13. I don’t know where I got the idea from, something just triggered in my brain. I just got used to the habit of it and kept on cutting myself. The last time he threatened me was with a belt, a big leather belt, I ran out of the house and never went back.”
“I was with Si by then, dad didn’t like him, he never liked anyone, I’m just lucky I found Si. If I had stayed I think most probably I’d have ended up dead, not probably, I would have been dead. All the physical and mental abuse, it was just too much. I think the only reason I have no confidence and I don’t like it outsides is because of the way my dad treated me.”
Kirsty : “I used to get bullied at school and had no one to talk with about that, so I was cutting regularly, almost every single day, when I woke up, especially when I was still at school, it was like a friend, the razor was my friend at that point. I think a big reason I kept on cutting was because I made my dad choose alcohol or me when I was 15 and he chose his alcohol, so, he was supposed to choose me instead of his alcohol. He never liked me anyway, I think because I look like my late mother. All the neighbors used to think he beat me and my brother but it was always only me that was getting hit and slapped, just me.”
“When I went to little school, this is how my dad explained it, he came into the primary school and then in front of everyone and the teacher said ‘Your mum died.’ and someone took the piss out of me over that and I went a little bit crazy because of it all. When I look back to when I self harmed, I understand why I done it, I just don’t understand how many times I did it, as it was all the time, I’m really surprised I never hit a vein. I used to make sure I pressed down really hard with the razor so I could feel the pain. I know other people that use different things to cut themselves with.”
Kirsty : “It was painful the first time, then I used to keep hiding it from people and it felt good. It felt good as I was hurting myself and not other people. The last time I did it, it was really deep and so I had to go to the doctor’s and they put dye and stuff on the wound. Everyone thought I was just a mental case or something. Really though, it was just my way of coping, a way of me escaping.”
“There are so many triggers in my mind and so my brain thinks ‘You need to cut yourself again.’ Si’s hidden all the razors now. Inside I think I have changed but I’m also getting more and more angry within as I’ve got no release. People that have never self harmed they just don’t understand.”
Si, morning after his wife Kirsty had a seizure and fell down the stairs of their apartment.
Si, reading a final demand letter detailing unpaid bills.
Si : “It’s really hard to have ADHD, really hard. I was four when I was diagnosed. In a way, the ADHD has caused all the things, a lot of the things that have made my life really difficult. I don’t deal with situations like other people do, I’ll deal with it all with anger.”
Si, self medicating with Cannabis. 2013.
Si : “Cannabis helps with my, like, hyper activeness, it helps in loads of ways y’know?, mellows me out , I don’t feel like I am always on edge. My ADHD, like I could drink a big bottle of coke and I’ll be running up and down the stairs, or sometimes no one knows what kind of mood I’ll be in from one day to the next, I could be alright one minute then I might shout or hit a wall, things like that. That’s my ADHD for you. I used to take Ritalin but they cut that when I turned 16 which was a bit of a bastard. The Ritalin used to just make a zombie. I used to take it twice a day, every day, once in the morning, once in the evening. They used to swap and change it all the time, one moment I’d be on 10 mg, the next 20 mg, then back on 10, it was like that all the time. It worked for a short amount of time but when they started messing with my tablets it never worked.”
“When I was about 14 I was just walking along the road, picking dog ends up in the street because I didn’t have no money or anything and one day I picked up a dog end and it had something else rather than baccy in it and that knocked me for six, must have been weed in there. That’s what really started me off with weed but, I like the feeling, it makes me see life in a different way. It’s nice, nice to not always be on edge for once in my life. When I get loaded, sometimes I feel calm, good, other times I just stay in and wonder what I’m doing with my life.”
Si : “Before I have it (Cannabis), I want to go out and commit crime or something. Like, I have no money at the moment and if I hadn’t been able to get weed I would maybe go off and do some crime, so I can get the money but it’s not just for the weed, it’s for Kirsty as well and the dog, the cat, it’s horrible knowing that the benefits are not helping matters, it’s just not enough for us to live on, by the time I’ve paid the water, the electric and everything else we are only left with maybe 20 or 30 pounds and that’s got to get us food, for us, for the animals, luxuries and it just doesn’t happen.”
Si : “All the millionaires and that, they are sat there in their big houses and judge us. The benefits people always fob us off, every week they say ‘You can’t expect us to give you money straight away.’ and yeah, that’s alright but you don’t know how we have to live, what state we have to live in and you’re there going home to your nice food, to your brand new car, a seven bedroom house and we’re left here and no one has a care in the world.”
“That’s what people out there need to understand, and the police need to understand is that the people that go out doing crimes are the people that don’t got no money, they can’t expect us to live off of nothing, so people got to go out and do crimes to get the money to survive.”
Si, remembering his late mother. 2013.
Si : “I think I can go out and do work but the benefits people won’t let me. They all say I am too thick to go and do anything, that because of my special needs I am thick, I am too thick and too dumb to even go and do a bin job, you got to have the qualifications, well, I left school with no qualifications or nothing.”
“Some part of me wishes I wasn’t here, like I wish I could just curl up into a ball and not be here because everything is so hard. My life is all just one big stress I think. I don’t think I’ll ever get far in life.”
Hopefully, in a few years I’ll have loads of money and not be living here, I don’t like living here, there’s nothing to do, it’s always boring. I feel lost, trapped and I don’t know how to get out of it, through my life I’ve always had to be the hard man , I never really wanted to, but I had to. I can’t cry because of me being the hard man, I feel like crying but nothing ever comes out and that’s not good. Everyone says ‘Why don’t you laugh, why don’t you cry?.’ and I just don’t know how to do either. I just bottle it all up, I’d rather it all be in my head than in anyone else’s.”