TW: suicidal thoughts
Hi, I am Steve a.k.a Redeyefeenix and I don’t see myself as having a mental health problem. I say this as I have been studying children’s mental health and well-being for my level 2 qualification. Firstly, let me say that through my studies in my opinion there is a lack of provision, strategies and therapies that involve music. Hip-hop culture and values can support the mental well-being of others FACT! This is tried and tested through the work that we do at Beats Bus Records with many success stories to date.
Lately I have been working in a pupil referral unit in Scarborough where I met a fellow youth worker called James. James has ADHD, Fibromyalgia, and HyperMobility disease but he uses his experiences to educate young people who have the same condition and other conditions and is a true soldier. Me and James got on with each other straight away and one day we were having breakfast on a 24 hour retreat we were involved in with the young people from the PRU (Pupil Referral Unit) and the conversation around the breakfast table turned to conditions and diagnoses. James then named everyone’s conditions and then turned to me and said “Steve is in need of a diagnosis”.
Recently in my studies, a lot of things I have read point towards me as someone with mental health issues.
My chimp agreed and I nodded and it made me think, do I need to be diagnosed by a professional? Do I need to be put in that box where people go: ‘oh, he has a condition or a problem, that is why he is who he is’? Recently in my studies, a lot of things I have read point towards me as someone with mental health issues. I have experienced parent separation, transition, moving home, substance abuse and alcohol abuse. I haven’t received help or support for any of these challenges I faced in my life, what I have done though is build resilience. I have fought and struggled with all my might to do what is right even through being faced with, and considered many times, the quick way out through suicide.
I have self-regulated, not diagnosed, but taught myself to manage all these challenges that a child should not have to experience at a young age, but I did. My hardest challenge has been to forgive my dad for how he treated my mam and rebuild a relationship with him as a dad as well as man and a son. At the same time I find myself hiding the relationship I am building on from my mam as in her eyes, and rightly so, he doesn’t deserve forgiveness for what he put my mam and myself as the oldest sibling through. So if I look through my mam’s eyes, my dad does not deserve my love and rightly so, but mam is bitter and rightly so, but I don’t want to foster that bitterness. If I look at it from my dad’s eyes, he was young (they had me when they were seventeen) and his actions then is not who he is now (try telling that to my mam) and to be honest, I don’t want to stand on either side, I want to have the same relationship with both my parents but don’t want to fight for either.
Self-regulated resilience is how I have coped. Do not get me wrong, it has taken a long time and a long path of drug abuse, alcohol abuse, self-hate, self-development and revaluation to get me to the point where I am now at the point of forgiveness.
Do not get me wrong, I know people benefit massively from a diagnosis and I have studied how important it is, but in my case I am happy as I am.
In May 2019 my bowel exploded and I had the most traumatising time of my life and it made me question my existence on earth. Whilst I was on the operating table I had an experience that I described to my wife when I came around as being saved. Since that day I have embraced my existence and faith and led by example with our work with Beats Bus Records. This is reflected in our free mentorship programme we deliver for young people aged 8-30 at no cost and also our campaign work to keep young people safe.
Self-regulated skills took me 4 years to master. To build these I used a few different processes and techniques. Firstly I took myself off all of the medicated drugs I was on after hospital. This was a hard process but they were taking me to dark places and I was actually scared of the night. After getting the drugs out of my system I started lifting pillows (I know this sounds daft but that was how weak I was, I lost 7 stone in hospital). Alongside this, I started reading self development books (such as The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and The Chimp Paradox) and watching TED talks. I used controlled breathing to battle the pain and the anxiety (arms open wide, feet on the ground inhale 5 seconds exhale 7 seconds). These skills were later developed with my leadership mentor on my SSE programme in 2021. At first, the anxiety used to make my hands and toes curl inwards and if I closed my eyes. I felt like I was being taken away by something all I had was the breathing to bring me back around. Then, when I felt mentally and physically strong enough (after 2 years), I joined the gym and created a training schedule to get me to the position I am in now.
Unfortunately after the operation I found out last week that I have developed 2 hernias so I need to have the reversal operation and have it all to face again at the end of this year. Only this time I am prepared and armed with self taught techniques, but also very aware I need to rest to recover.
So back to the original question? Do I need a diagnosis? Probably YES! But do I really want one? No, not really. I would rather be known as the eccentric artist that promoted young people’s creativity and safety. Do not get me wrong, I know people benefit massively from a diagnosis and I have studied how important it is, but in my case I am happy as I am.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Steve Arnott AKA Redeye Feenix is founder of the Beats Bus in Hull. He is committed to building confidence and giving young people the space to be creative through music and art workshops.
Hull resident Steve was a struggling warehouse worker by day and hip-hop performer by night. After a chance encounter with award-winning documentary maker Sean McAllister, Steve was asked to get involved in a film Sean was making: A Northern Soul. Music is Steve’s passion, writing and performing alongside any job he’s had but he is even more passionate about young people and ensuring that they have the opportunities that he didn’t. He now runs the Hull Beats Bus, a social enterprise mobile recording studio committed to building confidence and giving young people the space to be creative through music and art workshops. They have created a studio for their core students to use to ensure consistency and continuous guidance that they provide for free in their own time. This work is community driven with the direct aim of contributing to positive change for a new generation.