“Learning about how PTSD affects the brain helped me see that what was happening in my head wasn’t my fault.”
Craig joined the Territorial Army when he was 17. During his 28 years of service, Craig was deployed to Belize, Bosnia and Iraq.
“In Bosnia, there was an incident I’ll never forget. As a result I was transferred to a different team, in the hope that I’d get a fresh start. But then I was involved in a road accident and I ended up being sent home because of my injuries.
“It was during treatment for my physical injuries that my mental health problems started to appear. I was lying on the hospital bed, getting vivid flashbacks about what’d happened.
“From then on I felt like I was reliving the incident every day – I wasn’t me anymore. I behaved differently towards my friends and family. My relationships were volatile.
“It wasn’t long before I was diagnosed with PTSD. I was referred to different talking therapies through the NHS, but I still struggled.
“A therapist eventually referred me to Combat Stress. I started going to the peer support groups; what first struck me was how helpful it was to be with like-minded people.
“We gave each other great support and did occupational therapy as a group. I learnt practical ways of taking better care of my mental health as well as how to use mindfulness to bypass bad thoughts.
“I finally stopped blaming myself for what happened; I started being kinder to myself. Learning about how PTSD affects the brain helped me see that what was happening in my head wasn’t my fault.
“I could start enjoying my life. I still have the odd day when I feel down, but now I have the coping mechanisms I need to deal with them.
“In 2017 I completed a five-day course to become a peer support volunteer for Combat Stress. Now I’m in a better place, I want to help others as much as possible – because I know how dark it can be.”