Vince’s story

James MacAnerney as Vince

James MacAnerney as Vince

“It started off as nothing. I met my mate Tony for a beer. I felt great. Really clear in my mind. Hadn’t seen him in ages. He’s got a new wife, kid on the way, doing great. Had a few beers, nothing much, a great laugh, and then, at closing time, we said cheerio in the street and he went off to get the train.

It was raining a bit. And I turned the corner, and the street was dark and empty. Then it just hit me. I started wailing, tears streaming down my face. And, even as I was doing it, crying out loud, this strange broken sound, even then I wondered if Tony could hear me…

An old jakey came round the corner – I remember he had a tesco bag – and calls out – you okay son?
But I just felt empty – chasms of emptiness inside, waves of dread, and nausea like someone had punched me in the guts. And pain down my arms. I thought maybe I was having a heart attack and that would be a good thing – if the ground opened up and swallowed me, and I never have to see another day, feeling like this. Hopeless, horrible, dark, bitter, sick-making despair.

And after that I remember nothing. Not how I got home or where I went, nothing. There’s a 4 hour blank.
But I must have got home somehow – and punched the mirror. I saw me, and hated myself so much… And then I sort of came to a bit, I think and called Johnny – middle of the night – talking all kinds of crap. About dying.

The thing is – I’d not felt right for years – but you just keep ploughing on. My big secret: yeah, everything’s great. Life and soul of the party.

I can’t really remember the night, except Johnny’s hair. It was all sticking up,. He drove round – looked like he just got out of bed cos he had. And me, crying, and him, yelling and cajoling, and wrangling me into my room. He’s a big strong guy. He was angry, not with me, but for what I was doing to myself – and you know, like for what mum would have said.

Even then I knew it was crazy – trying to leave the house, talking about going down to the Clyde, trying to take pills. I could see myself: I’m wrestling this big bear for a pack of paracetemol and thought – if the martians were looking down, they’d be pissing themselves laughing. But I couldn’t stop myself. I look back now and just shake my head. Hilarious, really.

The next morning, fuck knows. I just felt so washed out. Empty. I’d come to the end of the line. And if it wasn’t for Johnny, god knows where I’d be.

He’s a big man. Tough. He’s not afraid of anything, Yeah, he’s scared of, like, official things like bank managers and policemen, stuff like that. Things that don’t bother me. But, life in general, he can take it all. And it’s not all gone his way. He’s not been that smart, academically I mean. Or some of the things he’s done. But he knows… he does know people, and he’s the most loyal friend – that’s who he is. Give you the shirt off his back, no questions asked.

He stuck by me through thick and thin – whether I wanted him to, or not. I wouldn’t have said I felt that close to him before. But since, you know… I know what he’s done for me. He’s never changed. But in a weird way, helping me helped him. It seemed to give him a sense of purpose, like a new self-respect, like he’s really achieved something. And he had. And he did.
He’s a great brother, but don’t tell him I said so. He’s a terrible golfer. You can tell him I said that.”

NB This is a fictionalised account, based on the a number of real life interviews, devised to help the actors in the see me commercials get inside the skin of the characters, and understand the kind of background history and emotional impact which mental health problems can have.