Army Veteran Stuart
In his own words.
“I was a bit of a rogue when I was a teenager. Then when I was 19 some of my friends went to prison, so I joined the Army to get out of that environment and escape that life.
“After joining the 23 Pioneer Regiment in 1992, I served all over the world including in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Germany. After 24 years I left the Army and entered civilian life in 2017.
“After about a year I got a new job as a premises manager at a secondary school. I didn’t enjoy the school environment; it was too noisy, there were too many kids and just too much going on for me. I isolated myself further and was drinking heavily – we’re talking 15 ciders a night, or a bottle of gin, then getting up and functioning in the morning. I was emotionally numb, overworking and didn’t want to interact with anyone.
“My marriage fell apart, I lost my job, my parents died and I was homeless for a while. It felt like after leaving the Army, bad news just kept coming.
“I started treatment with the charity in January 2022 through video calls – psychiatry appointments, substance misuse appointments, occupational therapy and also a course on understanding your triggers through your senses. The support was amazing and the treatment worked perfectly for me. I threw myself 110 per cent at it – I never missed a session and reaped the benefits from that. Through my time with Combat Stress I now understand that my mental health issues probably stemmed from Bosnia and Iraq.
“My life has a purpose now. I constantly try to do things I used to enjoy and I’m far calmer. I help others, like cutting next door’s trees, and take the positives from that. I used to just fill time with mundane things like constant cleaning, but now I do things I enjoy. I am taking better care of myself and have a small group that I socialise with, whereas two years ago I wouldn’t have.