A difficult childhood and mental health problems pushed Harry into a drug-using world at a young age.
His film 'Harry's story' became the winning entry in the first ever Recovery Street Film Festival, set up by a consortium of addiction charities including Blenheim as a way of exploring drug and alcohol addiction through the medium of film.
Here he shares his incredible story of overcoming addiction, meeting the Duchess of Cambridge and now using his own experience to help others.
"Hi! My name is Harry and I’m a recovering addict.
Recently I was privileged enough to meet with the Duchess of Cambridge at the fantastic event for Recovery Street Film Festival. As well as meeting her, I was able to meet and talk to some amazing people who had overcome incredible difficulties and addiction. Hearing their stories was one of the most moving experiences I’ve had in a long time. So let’s hope you find mine to be as interesting as I found those stories.
When I was born my mother and father were living in Moscow at the time, so when I was just two weeks old they decided to force a plane full of people to endure a wee laddie’s first experience of pressure changes. I spent two years living in Moscow with my family before flying back to London again to live here for about 3 years. Then we moved to Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, for about three years, before coming back to London to live here again for about six years. Can you see the pattern here?
It was when I was about 13/14 I moved to Italy to be with my dad, and that’s where it all started really. Me and my friends would ditch school to go smoke weed and drink beers, which is…not an entirely unpleasant thing to do in Italy it has to be said. It was in Italy that my mental health started to take a turn for the worse though. It continued to deteriorate when I moved to Scotland and continued to get worse and worse as the years went by.
In Italy it was more isolated incidents, where there would be the odd night of depressive episodes, but in Scotland it became a lot more prevalent. I started to self harm, for the most part just superficial scratches really, but it was then that I started going to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in earnest. I was a day patient for a few months in that I would be going nearly daily for group sessions etc. It wasn’t until I came down to London again that I started to take more volatile substances to deal with the mounting pressure of my mental health.
I was diagnosed with symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder, severe depression, and psychosis, so drugs were an escape from it all. It was a luxury to feel like you were normal back then, and the drugs helped you to feel it. It was easy to become addicted to the sensation of feeling what I believed everyone else felt, namely being normal.
Meeting the Duchess was a daunting and borderline terrifying experience. I was incredibly nervous about the idea of having someone like The Duchess see an interview where I was at my worst. It was a strange mixture of humbling privilege and tongue tying terror, but ultimately one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Having her there has had such an amazing impact on the publicity for the event which is brilliant because I can’t think of a better way to raise awareness about a great project doing amazing work with some truly incredible people.
I can only hope to emulate the level of dedication and effort that they put in with my own job working for Catch 22, which incidentally was the charity that helped me combat my substance misuse.
Ain’t the world a small place like that?"