It has taken me a few years to find the courage to tell my story. Now is the time and I'd like to share it with people who understand the daily battles that people fight daily.
I had a pretty normal not difficult childhood, mum committed suicide when I was young and dad did everything he could. Dad remarried a few years later and to say the relationship with his new wife was not perfect at the time for me is being polite . They eventually had 3 children . I didn’t seem to fit in and one day it was proposed that I stay with my Uncles for a while, I needed attention so jumped at the chance. I never returned home . I then later rebelled and made it hard for my Aunt and Uncle. I then moved in with my Gran ( my rock ) all before I had finished school. I was never really close with my dad, But I wanted to follow in his footsteps as a soldier, mainly to prove the doubters that I could be something ( and to achieve more than him). I felt that I disappointed my family at times and felt moving away on my own would rid them of the disappointment and leave me to take ownership of my destiny.
Around the age of 16. I was introduced to the Army. I was very small with a speech impediment and asthma moving over 200 miles away ,living with new people - my chance to forget the past.I thought at the time that this would be fantastic, however being small and with a speech impediment brought me additional attention bbbbbbbbb boots I was called amongst other names and unwanted attention.
I learnt to have thick skin and not let it get to me and used this to inspired me to prove them wrong .
I must stress now, I became really good at not showing anything on the outside .
I passed out of training and embattled on my Army career.
The early years were ok without being outstanding -but I thought I’d turned the corner started to get confident.
However on my first operational tour I became under fire and both my friend and I were shot -this was a part of the job ,however the effect it had on him was eye opening.
Through my tours I had many inner battles to fight , finding a soldier under my command after he committed suicide with a 5.62 min bullet.
Many tours and I seem to have had more lives than a cat, yet those around me did not, was I stealing their lives -I was shot , I survived they were shot and died or had life changing injuries.
At times I felt ashamed, betrayed, angry, shocked, and exploding on the inside with a range of other emotions and feelings. This in-turn led to health issues, trust issues which in turn led to friendships being ceased, relationships falling apart and a host of other stuff.What was happening?
Anybody reading this who's been in that same horrible boat, may relate. For people who haven't been in that boat, it's not a pleasure cruise thats for certain!!!
After the incidents, I never told anybody about what I felt , it was not done at that time in the masculine world of the Army, not even my wife or family.
It was only when I was individually targeted in Northern Ireland on a routine drive to the airport, I even took a safe route , only to find a terrorist road block ahead, on my own my drills came in , I opened fire and followed my training to the T and made my way to the nearest police station.
I found it hard to imagine I survived that and couldn’t come to terms with it.
This effected me and I fell into a dark place ( I know this now). After just a short time I realised I was not right and went to see my doctor and explained about my feelings - his answer was look at you, you are slim, fit and healthy and I am fat - you will be fine.
Slim, I weighed 49kg, I was 60 only 6 months before. I was a leader of soldiers, figure head commander a disciplinarian I battled on with external wars and conflicts with inner demons.
I had made it my successful time in the Army came to an end I had made a difference and in general I had hidden and kept my secrets for over 22years.
The battles were not left in the Army - I seem to have brought them with me. This all came to a turning point a year or so later - my actions nearly shattered the people I love - but again I was still around (the cat).
So cutting a long story short, it wasn't till I had gone to an extreme that I realised the effect it has on others and that I had survived again and I have survived for a reason. I wanted to dedicate it to helping others. I built up enough courage to to speak to those close to me.
I won't bore you with all the nitty gritty in-between bits, however, a couple of years ago I decided to let out 30 years of the most horrid time in my life.
I didn't sleep at all that night, it was like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders.
Moving on I'm not giving in that easy, I'm a survivor! If I could address this, I'd say thanks – thanks for making me the strong, moral, ethical, positive person I am today.
Yeah I have my ups and downs, I've got a lot more to live for. I have found running has lifted from a down day to a gown day ( one that you rule) every step I take in my running is a step towards the light at the end of the tunnel. There always is a light no matter how small the light, it may only be a flicker in the back of your mind, but concentrate on that, that is your lighthouse ,it will guide you on a safe journey. I was the lowest of the low, and yet now not everyday is perfect (I’m human) however when I do get a down day i can recognise this and I acknowledge and tell it were to go.
Your mind is a complex machine, it does things without you realising - your heart beats-it does that, it tells you to breathe, it moves your arms and legs without you thinking.
So don’t try and control it, go with it - be the captain of your ship.
Your mind makes your heart beat-so why not make it beat harder( run), it makes you breathe, so why not make it breathe harder( fitness), it makes your arms and legs move, so why not make them move more( run).
Challenge your way of thinking.
I need to walk - NO let’s go a few more lamp posts I’m tired I need to stop - NO I’m tired but I can go a little bit further
This is what has brought me from the darkest pit to now. I have a great career and am making a success of it. I'm a mental health first aider, an ambassador for England athletics for mental health, I’m trying to change the world ( one person at a time) it may take a while but - I’m a survivor.
With the support of our family, friends and other survivors, we can win this battle.
When things hit me now - I can see them for what they are - we've been hit with our fair share of bad news and yet we are still here - help me make a difference in June I’m running solo for 170 miles for charity - my journey has just began - where will yours take you.