“In the military you’re trained never to show weakness and for a long time I couldn’t admit I needed help. But I found the inner strength to pick up the phone and ask for support.”
For years, the symptoms of Simon’s Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder left him feeling as though trapped in a dark tunnel. Now on the road to recovery – and having discovered new focus through a love of photography - he can see the light at the end.
“Living with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) used to feel like living in a long, dark tunnel. The nightmares and anxiety were a constant battle.
“In the military, you’re trained never to show weakness and for a long time, I couldn’t admit I needed help. I tried to keep everything inside. But then it all came to a head and I suffered a breakdown.
“That’s when I picked up the phone and asked for support.
“Because of my PTSD, I get scared and anxious meeting new people. But when I first walked through Help for Heroes’ doors, I immediately felt at ease.
“I received the help I needed to manage my symptoms and to open up to my family about what I was going through. That’s been huge and had brought us so much closer together. And I had access to recovery activities designed to help me regain my confidence and sense of purpose. I took courses in woodwork and nutrition, but the thing that really changed my life was my time spent in the art room, where I discovered a love of photography.
“Getting out in the fresh air to take photos distracts me from the symptoms of my PTSD and helps me relax whenever I felt anxious or low. The Help for Heroes’ team even organised a proper camera for me, as the camera on my phone wasn’t up to much!
“When the coronavirus pandemic hit my PTSD worsened, leaving me feeling chaotic and scared. The photography really helped me through that first lockdown; something as simple as a camera motivated me to leave the house, which helped my mental health no end. Without it, I’d have been locked inside and my anxiety levels would have gone through the roof.
“Now, I’ve set up my own Instagram account where I share my work. Professional photographers have even complimented me on my photos, which has helped me to feel positive and really boosted my confidence.
“I’ll continue to need support but, thanks to Help for Heroes I’m now marching towards the light at the end of that dark tunnel. I’ve found the strength to live the life I deserve.”
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