Multi-storey car park fall survivor shares story of mental health struggle
- Credit: NSFT
More than 35 years ago, a bookseller from Norwich decided to end his life after years of mental health battles.
Steven Foyster, now 64, of Horsham-St-Faith, made the heartbreaking decision to die.
But instead of dying following his fall from the top of a multi-storey car park, he was left with multiple injuries, some lifelong, as he began a journey of recovery.
Now the married father-of-two has penned a book about that harrowing day on May 16, 1986, and how it shaped his future.
He said: “At that time, I felt pressure from so many different directions, such as at home and at work.
“I felt like I could not cope with many things. It was very numbing, total blackness. I could not love anyone, not even myself.
“And the thing is, it could happen to anyone. Although problems can be rectified, in that moment in time when you get in that state of mind, it can become almost a compulsion to end things.
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“For me, I don’t remember falling but I do remember the landing.”
A resident of Hellesdon at the time, he was just 29 years old.
He sustained multiple injuries including a punctured lung, multiple fractures to his left ankle, a severed sciatic nerve in his leg, as well as countless others.
And despite spending eight months recovering in the former Mundesley Hospital, in north Norfolk, some of the injuries have continued to affect him to this day.
He added: “At that time, I had not received much psychiatric help. There just wasn’t that type of help back then.
“I was then given psychiatric support and it was suggested that I tried keeping a journal to help.”
This was the first time Mr Foyster had put pen to paper about his struggles with mental health and it took him 60 hours of writing in longhand to get down what had happened. By 1987, he had written the first two parts of what would become his novel Cry to be Heard! My Road to Recovery.
He said: “It was very cathartic to me at the time.
“I decided to push on with the book and I showed it to friends, having to photocopy pages of my own writing. And a few years ago, I shared it out at a book club I was part of.”
In 1991, he married his wife Mandy and together they had two sons. Then five years ago, he began sharing his experiences with others as a way of giving back to a wider community.
In 2019, Mr Foyster was able to pay for his medical notes and was surprised to discover his account of the trauma he suffered was accurate to the notes written by doctors and medical staff during his recovery.
Then, as lockdown struck in 2020, he decided to revisit his work again with the intention of getting it published, and contacted Norwich-based independent publisher, Paul Dickson.
“The book works through recovery from depression and suicidal feelings and actions, but is also filled with my humour, which helped me to get through a lot. My recovery changed when I had someone who listened to me.”
Mr Foyster, who works part-time for a mental health charity, explained that his book is about “both the mental and physical recovery as much as it is about a journey of hope”.
“I’m quite amazed to hold in my hand my book. It’s a massive milestone for me.
“I think I was fortunate I stayed alive. I’ve been able to reach out to hundreds and hundreds of people and maybe that was the reason I was kept alive – to give something back.”
- The book launch for Cry to be Heard! My Road to Recovery takes place at 4.30pm on September 10, World Suicide Prevention Day, at Revelation Christian Bookshop in Norwich. To reserve a free place ring 01603 619731 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The book is published by Paul Dickson Book and more information can be found at www.pauldicksonbooks.co.uk.
- A donation of £1 from the sale of every copy will be given to the charity Norfolk and Waveney Mind.
- To contact the Samaritans, call 116 123, email email@example.com or visit www.samaritans.org.
An extract from Cry to be Heard! My Road to Recovery:
"An ambulance arrived, bringing with it an amazing coincidence. One of the medics was Claude, my one new friend from the Methodist youth club. He had also been an infrequent customer at the shop where I had worked prior to my current job at Waterstones. He was totally shell-shocked to see me in this state. ‘My God Stevie, what have you done?’ he cried, in a somewhat unprofessional manner.
"Both medics maneuvered me onto a stretcher and into the ambulance. I began to struggle. Maybe my subconscious was starting to realise that it had not worked; the adrenaline pumped back. Claude barked at me to keep still. I reluctantly complied. I was losing my grip. I started to cry. ‘I love you, Claude’ I blubbered. ‘Don’t be stupid, Stevie’ he responded. ‘I am too ugly’. Humour, our most precious gift, prevailed. We arrived at the ambulance bay at A & E whereupon I passed out."