At 16-years old Martyn was a star footballer – however his sporting dreams were shattered when he was told he may never walk again following a devastating injury.

Although the doctors’ fears did not become reality – Martyn was unable to pursue his passion, and found himself sinking into a deep depression.

Years later, after developing paranoia, voices in his head and an addiction to drugs and alcohol, Martyn attempted to kill himself in a desperate bid to end his mental turmoil.

Now 34, the Chalfont St Peter resident is a trustee at mental health charity Buckinghamshire Mind, and is a passionate advocate for Bucks County Council’s (BCC) Time to Change Campaign – which aims to end the stigma surrounding mental illness.

Martyn now uses his own journey to help and support others who are facing similar battles, as well as encourage as many people as possible to talk about their own mental wellbeing in a bid to banish the stigma.

“They were in two-minds whether to amputate my leg or not, because I had lost so much blood”, Martyn said.

“It was the first week of my A-Levels, so the start of September. And they said to me you might not walk again, let alone play football.

“So I was beside myself really. I was in so much pain and had to go through all the rehab.

“I missed the first six or seven weeks of the term and I came back and I just didn’t bother to catch up, and I sank into this massive depression.

“I started hanging around with a new bunch of friends, because before I would be playing football three matches a week, and training on the other nights. Now I was doing none of that my outlet was gone.”

Martyn started “self-medicating” by drinking alcohol and smoking cannabis to ease the symptoms of his anxiety and depression.

Despite his struggles, Martyn went on to achieve four Cs at A-level and landed a place at Chichester university. However his first term came with a lot of wild parties involving drink and drugs – which rapidly led him towards his first experience of psychosis.

By Christmas Martyn was hearing voices and was convinced the university had installed cameras in the smoke detector in his room to monitoring his every move.

Martyn continued: “I was starting to get more and more paranoid to the point where I was convinced there was this Truman Show style Big Brother thing going on where they were all filming me.

“I was convinced there were cameras hidden in my room and I started talking to the cameras and was  trying to work out what I needed to do to get rid of the cameras.

“That was my first experience of psychosis. I was just on another planet.

“I was so wrapped up in this being real that I was withdrawn from everything, I stopped going to lectures, I would only go out if my room if it was to go and get drunk, I stopped talking to my roommates as well.”

When he went home for Christmas Martyn’s parents quickly realised something was wrong, so rushed to the GP – who put him on strong anti-psychotic medication. “Scared, worried and ashamed” Martyn didn’t go back university, and instead went abroad to work with his dad.

Unfortunately the medication only worked for a brief period, and Martyn slipped back into old coping mechanisms of using drink and drugs to manage his illness – until 2009 when he lost all hope.

“Instructed” by the voices in his head that had been wearing him down for six years, Martyn attempted to take his own life, convinced there was nothing or no one else that could help him.

However the suicide attempt was a turning point in his life, and pushed him to talk to his friends and family about his illness and ultimately get the help he desperately needed.

Martyn gave up drugs and alcohol, and 17 years after his first experiences of psychosis he was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type – a combination of psychotic and mood-related symptoms, such as extreme highs and lows.

He still hears voices every day and has long spells where he “can’t cope with the most basic of tasks”, however he has learnt the importance of talking to people about is illness in order to aid his recovery.

Martyn is also dedicated to spreading awareness of his condition as he has found there is still a lot of stigma attached to psychosis. Some people have asked him if he is dangerous, while others have just walked away when he tells them he has the illness.

Now Martyn is a huge mental health advocate and works with BCC on promoting the Time to Change Message: “Talk to each other, be kind to each other, and help each other out.”

He said: “Life for me is now about helping others in similar situations to realise their potential, as I have been able to do, whilst trying to manage my mental health.

“This is why I’m so excited about working with the Time to Change Buckinghamshire hub. I’m not a psychiatrist, or a psychologist, or a teacher or a doctor, so you may not agree with all I say, but the Time to Change message is clear.

“If you see someone like me, sitting on a bench mumbling to himself, rocking back and forth, ask if they are ok.

“They probably need a friend. Put your phone down and look around, the world is a hard place to be sometimes. But we can change that, one conversation at a time.”

For more information on BCC’s Time to Change campaign visit: