Rob Shenton had always been a keen runner, but it wasn’t until his father was diagnosed with cancer in 2008 that he decided he wanted to push himself further. Signing up for the Marathon des Sables in 2011, Rob ran a gruelling 155-mile desert race run in extreme heat over six days. Two years later, with his thirst for extreme challenges ablaze, Rob set off to Nepal to take part in the Everest Marathon, the highest footrace in the world.
Sadly, upon his return, Rob’s long-term depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) flared up and he was medically retired, his 21-year military career at an end. “It was a shock and I wasn’t expecting it. Leaving the military was a turbulent period because I was saying goodbye to everything I’d known for over 20 years.
“I stopped looking after myself and I stopped doing physical activity. I let myself go, I lost my love of running and of life.”
Rob spent time at our Tedworth House Recovery Centre and was introduced to our Hidden Wounds Team.
“The biggest step I ever had to take was seeking help for depression. But it has been the best thing I have done. It kept me alive. I found peace and solace at Tedworth House and had space to think. I’ve used Hidden Wounds extensively since leaving the military – they’ve kept me on the right track.”
With the support from Hidden Wounds, Rob rediscovered his love of running and turned his attention to arguably his toughest challenge; the North Pole Marathon: “I really thought it wasn’t going to happen because my focus was on trying to get as well as I could. But I spoke to Help for Heroes and they were really positive about it - they helped get me there. Suffering from a mental illness means I don’t have much confidence in my own ability so one of the key things is to surround myself with positive people and the Help for Heroes team is that positive influence.”
Rob is also a member of our choir, and balances running with his passion for singing.
“I sing in the choir and we have two or three online get-togethers a week. It’s really uplifting to see the other members of the choir and have the banter that we so often miss in the military. I would be in far worse place without it.
“Despite having a wonderful fiancé and some great friends I can feel very isolated at times. The choir has really helped me with that. When we perform it is not unusual for us to shed the odd happy tear.”
Through our Pathfinder course, Rob has also started finding work opportunities. Best of all, his love of running keeps Rob on track with his mental health and focussed on the future.