Belfast teenager changes his life after hitting rock bottom with prescription drugs and alcohol
A teenager who once attempted suicide is now leading mental health awareness seminars at local schools.
Gerard Mullan, from the Whitewell Road area of north Belfast, sought refuge through prescription drugs and alcohol after his grandmother died.
Growing up without a father figure, Gerard’s world crumbled around him after the death of the man he admired – a catalyst for years of self-destruction.
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Speaking to Belfast Live about his journey, the 19-year-old opened up about his lowest point which left him in hospital and learning to walk on crutches.
“I’ve always had mental health issues, but after my grandmother died it impacted everything,” he said.
“He replaced the father figure that I didn’t have. He died when he was 99, and in my eyes he was never going to die. When he did, it just broke me. It broke everyone in my family.
“From there I just went a little crazy. I started rebelling, venting my anger on everyone. Then I turned to drugs, thinking it was a good idea at the time. I ruined everything between me and my family.
“I tried to hide everything from my mum, but when she found out, it broke everything.
“I started with prescription drugs, painkillers. Then it moved on to cannabis, then cocaine.
“At the time, I thought the drugs were helping me, but I was falling deeper and deeper into them and it was making me worse. Things got a bit over the top when I couldn’t get or finance the drugs.
“I was drinking more and more. Partying all the time – just being destructive. Mum and I would have been best friends, way more than mother and son. We were so strong and it just pushed that away. I I also lost friendships.
“It left me all alone.”
Gérard says that at some point he would have stayed in his house and closed himself off to the outside world.
Three years ago, he hit rock bottom.
He added: “It’s hard for me today to think back to that moment in my life. I didn’t live for anything, I just lived to die. It’s hard for me to even say it.
“About a week before my seventeenth birthday, I went to my friend’s house and had an early drink that day. That’s when I knew what I was going to do. I ended up taking drugs and fighting with most people there.
“I tried to kill myself that night. When I was taken to the hospital, they didn’t know how I was still alive because I was losing a lot of blood because I had a wound in my stomach. head. It was bad.
“When I got to the hospital they put me in intensive care where I spent over a week. I was not allowed to leave until I could walk again, I So I had to learn to walk with crutches, which was difficult.
“I was dealing with a lot of things, it was a turning point for me. It scared me. Now I see that I was given a second chance in life. I went from there, to tell my story to others. I never thought I would see past 17.
“It took me a long time to accept my story and open up, but I know it can help others, so I’m owning my story now and learning more about myself. I have I’ve had offers to go to schools to talk about mental health and I’ve had great feedback.”
Gerard never thought he would see himself with a positive future.
Now he makes videos on social media, raising awareness about mental health, and his TikTok videos reach thousands of people. He is also creating his own podcast, where he wants to provide a platform for others to talk in an open environment.
He says talking openly about his darkest days can help someone come out of theirs.
“Even on a bad day now, I can turn it into a good day. My mental health today is good,” he said.
“I help people every day, and it gives me a sense of hope. If I could give one piece of advice, it would be to never get in the way of any feeling. Try to recognize what’s going on and tell someone right away. ‘one. Don’t sit silent. If I can overcome all of this, anyone can do it.
If you or someone you know is in distress or despair, call the free 24/7 Lifeline helpline on 0808 808 8000.
Video by Belfast Live videographer Harry Bateman.
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