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Let’s Learn a bit more about Dave from the MARC Project!

I know you live in Bangor, Dave, but not a lot else. Tell me a little bit about yourself!

Dave: I’ve lived in Bangor all my life. I was born in the hospital there in 1980. I’ve lived in the Bangor area all my life. I’ve always loved Bangor. The furthest I’ve moved has been to Crawfordsburn, but I have now moved back to Bangor.

My mum and

dad don’t live together anymore. They parted company when I was 6. I remember at that age, at the courthouse, being told by a perfect stranger that I needed to pick a parent, and that’s the way it was done in those days. I’m not sure there is a lot of difference now, but I’m sure there is a lot more explaining done. So I grew up wondering why do I have to pick between my parents. I chose my mum. I think at this young age, was when I first felt frustration.

What drew you to the job in the Link as a MARC floating support worker?

Dave: Apart from all that happening at a younger age. These happenings were like little dots in my life, traumatic things happening in my life. At the age of 17, I had an accident at work that caused me to lose my finger. Then at 21, I received an insurance claim and started socially drinking, and then I fell into a trap where I was drinking more and more and my pot of money was growing less and less and less. Then I foun

d myself drinking at home. I basically drank myself into oblivion for about 15 years. I woke up one morning and it was “do or die!” I either get out of bed and catch a grip of yourself or just lie in bed and dissolve away into the ether.

So I used the mirror. I’d heard of this mirror psychology. David Goggins uses it, his accountability mirror. He’s an athlete, an ex-Navy Seal. He came from being obese. His family background was that he was beat up severely by his dad and told that he was never any good. He had an accountability mirror. He put goals on his accountability mirror and if at the end of the week the goals were still on his mirror, he asked himself why he hadn’t done that.

I put myself in front of this mirror and gave myself a verbal telling off! That was my sub-conscious mind in the mirror. So I told myself exactly what was going to happen. I got aggressive with the mirror. I stopped short of punching it. That Saturday morning, I said, “I’m never going to feel like this again!” And now, after 7 years of being sober, I have this desire to help people. I went through psychology as I was suffering from anxiety. I fixed myself through the help of my psychologist, and CBT therapy. My psychologist said that I would make an awesome therapist. She said “We’re going to find out what you are good at, and we’re going to make you really good at it. What I can see from speaking to you is that you have this amazing ability to be kind and to help other people. And you don’t appear to find it at all stressful.”

Then I heard that the Link was looking for someone for maternity cover for a post, so I applied for the job and here I am! It all just seemed to fit at the right time.

How have your life’s experiences helped in the work you’re involved in, in the MARC project?

Dave: Well, we go back to the alcohol abuse. Coming through all that. When I stopped drinking, I asked myself “Why did I do that?” There had to be a reason. I was studying what I was doing to myself as I was doing it. I was pouring drink down my neck and at the same time I was on the internet studying what alcohol abuse does to your body. I co0ntacted the doctor who put me on to the CAT (Community Addictions Team) and when I met them, the girl asked, “David, what is it you want?” I told her that I’d been reading all this and she said “You don’t need to be here. You can stay if you want, but you know what you want.”

That put me on th

e path. When the student is ready the teacher appears. All through that alcohol abuse, I was being taught to be the person that I am. Even although I didn’t know it at the time, I’ve learned all these lessons. The best person to lead someone is one who has trod that path. A guy I spoke to one day, a client, said, a lot of their therapists have read the map but they have never been to the country. There is no point in standing up and telling people to stop drinking, if I’m reading it from a page.

What part of your job do you enjoy the most and is there any standout story that you are able to share with us?

Dave: I love the job because I can give people empowerment. Some of the clients suffer from anxiety, and empowering them to do things, like opening a bank account. They’ve never had one in their life. But seeing the absolute delight on their face when the account is opened. It really is a big deal for them. Something that others would just take for granted. They were totally convinced that they were not going to be allowed to open an account. They felt that they don’t deserve anything. Some have been physically and mentally abused, which has had a detrimental effect on his life.

At the end of the day, when you’ve finished your work at the Link, how do you fill your spare time?

Dave: I rest, and I would meditate. I love meditation. I disappear out of the world for an hour. I also train and I do a lot of running. Using a personal trainer for the first few months has helped me do things right. He is also teaching me about nutrition. I would see him twice a week, then I would go out running and walking and I would do my own weights. I hope I have eliminated anxiety and worry from my life, and I test myself. I’ve decided I’d like to learn to swim. I’ve set myself a goal, so I have booked swimming lessons.

I also love growi

ng organic veg in my back garden. I’m very active. I understand that rest and sleep are important, but I love being active. I also love driving. I’ll go out driving with no particular place to go, a magical mystery tour!

Dave: I love photography. I used it to get myself out of the drinking. I love landscape photography. I’m really fussy with it. I took a photograph of a waterfall. It took me 3 months to get the perfect picture. I went to the waterfall every week. Either the water was running too fast, or too brown. Then I got up this day and it was perfect, so didn’t need to take that photograph again.

I’ve been to Auschwitz in Poland photographing and I’ve had exhibitions and done very well from them. I also taught myself, through Belfast Exposed, how to do 35mm photography. I had a dark room in my house. It was really interesting. You need a lot of patience to do it.

I’ve always been fascinated by images. If you hand me a photographic album, I’ll spend two or three hours looking at it. I won’t just look at the photograph. I’ll look at the detail. So, for example, a photograph of a town centre, I’ll notice it’s a windy day, because the flag is blowing horizontal. Or see the shadows and work out what time the photograph was taken.

I saw this photograph of a man’s face. A really old man and he’d such architecture on his face and he was wearing a hat, and he had a wee stubby cigarette. It was black and white. And I thought wow! What an amazing photograph! I’d love to take a photograph like that, so I studied how to do that. I then started taking photographs and friend noticed that photographs of the sunsets I was taking were very good, so I started to get confidence that way. I studied on YouTube how to do long-exposure sea photography. To make the sea look like smoke. I’d get down to the beach, take some photographs, make a mess of it, get annoyed, then I’d keep on practicing until I got it right. Then people began to notice that I was taking photographs in a certain way that nobody else was and they’d stop to look at them. Then I got in to film photography. The time I spent on the alcohol was replaced by time spent on photography.


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