Businessman talks overcoming mental health struggles and drug addiction
- Credit: Christian Govan
A man who grew up in a house in Therfield with his parents and their 38 dogs has spoken out about the experiences he's had and the mental health challenges he still faces today.
Christian Govan and his twin brother grew up in Hay Green in the village. He said the home was a 'giant kennel' overrun with dogs. His parents were convicted of animal welfare offences and a noise abatement breach.
As an adult, Christian had substance abuse problems and his life spiralled out of control - the drugs and alcohol left him feeling suicidal.
Christian told the Crow: "I am aware there’s a lot of broken people out there, and I am one of those people.
“Throughout my life and in particular the last few years have been very difficult for me. It has been a very turbulent time and I have suffered immensely with anxiety, severe depression and suicidal thoughts and feelings, it's sad to admit this but there were many times that I just didn't want to be here anymore. But you don’t know what is round the next corner.”
Regarding his childhood, Christian - now a businessman and investor - said he and his brother would get dressed and look after themselves from garden shed, the only place they had some space.
“The Crow ran a story years ago about my parents and the 38 dogs - what you didn't know was there were twin boys in that house.
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“At 21 we became successful, bought our own house and we disconnected from our parents. I did make peace with my parents – they now live out of the area. They have moved away for a fresh start. I don’t agree with all the things they do, but they did their best and they do try to be supportive.”
Christian fell out with his twin and a further twist in his chaotic life in saw him arrested with a warrant to extradite him to Germany. He was arrested in June 2015 in connection with a “€60 million tax fraud” investigation, and the charges were dropped in 2016.
After his arrest, he was tagged and subject to a curfew at his home address in Royston, plus he had to answer bail at Stevenage police station three times a week.
He said: “I had to go to court and because I said I would fight the extradition - I got to stay here and fight the case.
“Inside that house I was breaking down, I had created my own monster – I had ramped up the drugs and the alcohol thinking I was going to be heading to a German prison.
“Wearing a tag on your ankle felt like I was a prisoner in my home. I went down to the kitchen one day and I thought ‘what am I here for? Oh, I need to make breakfast’ - my mental state was so bad, I couldn’t even make a bowl of Weetabix.
“I would be so annoyed I would get myself some wine and drugs and think ‘I’ll show you’ - but that defiance didn’t get me anywhere. I went to the doctors and went to therapy, which was OK but what really helped was when I went to Cocaine Anonymous.
“A friend of mine said ‘why don’t you come along to CA support me’ when actually it was me who needed the support and he wanted to help.”
There was a point during his struggles that said he couldn’t contain what was going on inside, and he began scribbling down poignant moments from his life – which eventually became a book, The Enemy with my Face.
He said: “I did write notes from 2016, but I didn’t write the manuscript under the influence of drugs and alcohol
“When writing the book, I could only do about an hour and a half a day before my brain became a melted welly – it was very intense and I felt vulnerable. It was from the heart and I didn’t have any filters or assistance.
“I thought it would be therapeutic – but it was a long and painful process. It took me about six months to write it.
Christian is now 11 months clean and sober and is looking to the future with his partner Elizabeth, from Bassingbourn.
He also wants to donate a percentage of the money from the sale of the book to the Samaritans, which is says is a “fantastic cause”.
“Mental health is talked about more, but it still needs attention," he said. “At CA there are people just like me who are struggling. We all have the same beginning and the same ending but the middle is each person’s own story.
"I talk openly and honestly about my own personal struggles with depression and suicide. I have been brutally honest, truthful and I have turned myself inside out to write something in the hope of sharing my story with others to get the message out there that all is not lost and that you definitely are not alone. “
If you need someone to speak to, the Samaritans are available 24/7 on 116 123.