Mark Colman (Ex Royal Engineer)
My name is Mark Colman and I'm an ex member of the Royal Engineers, retired in 1994. I served on various operational tours around the world including Gulf War 1. On leaving the army I took up a career in Commercial Diving and worked all over the UK and Europe on various underwater construction sites including a year in Berlin on the reunification of the city.
In 2000 I took a CP course (Bodyguard course) and combined both jobs throughout the year. Whilst I was working as a commercial diver I was working in Canary Wharf when I was involved in a tragic accident and never dived again after this.
My sister also died a few years previous to this in a tragic accident in Zimbabwe. With both of these events and stuff I had witnessed and had gone through in the army life was beginning to take a bad turn on me.
I then started to put all my energy in to my work, which in turn destroyed a 17 year marriage as it was all work and no play. In 2009 I was abroad working and my marriage broke up. I returned home in 2010 with the plan of going back, however my youngest daughter Chantal (16) decided she wanted to live with me. I was thrilled with this however this meant I could not go back abroad, and with current licencing in the UK with the SIA I could no longer work here either.
At this time I had no where to live and my daughter and I spent 6 weeks in a 40 ft container behind a pub which was soul destroying for Chantal. I then managed to get a one bedroom bed sit which we took and lived there for about 1 year. I now live in a bigger 2 bed flat.
During this period I found my self sitting around more a less in a trance, and various incidents started coming back to haunt me. I then started having flashbacks at night and waking up with a cold sweat, with Chantal running out her bedroom asking what's wrong and am I ok. She has been a rock to me and I don't know what I would do without her by my side, however there are only certain things you can tell a teenager as I didn't want to scare her to.
I then started having very bad mood swings which I had been having for a long time which didnt help the marriage either. I then started getting aggressive and having lots of arguments with Chantal.
I thought this was just normal behaviour and it wasn't me it was everyone else. Things started getting out of hand and in 2010 I was arrested for assault and charged. I was put on community service which was soul destroying and I knew there was something wrong with me but didn't know what. I contacted my doctor who said it was depression and out came the tablets.
One evening I was sat on facebook and saw a group called VIA (Veterans In Action). I clicked on to it and had a read, it was a charity that helps veterans with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) or who find it hard to adjust to civilian life.
It did make me wonder. I sat there for weeks thinking I should call them but couldn't build up the courage to do so, as I was scared of being put in a box and classed as another one of societies nutters. Eventually I built up the courage as I was feeling worse and rang them and I spoke to the charity founder Mr Billy MacLeod.
I was on the phone for what seemed like ages but after the call felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I explained to Billy everything that had been going on and he said that I may be suffering from PTSD and my behaviour was normal for this, but help is there for me.
He suggested that I come out on one of their charity collecting days at a football game which I did. It was here I met other lads and lasses going throught the same as me and felt at ease with them as they were experiencing the same problems and anxieties as me. I have not looked back since.
Since being with VIA I have been away and done a White Water Rafting Guides Course, a White Water Rescue Technician Course and recently have just finished a VIA Foundation Course based on NLP (Nero Linguistic Programming) with them.
The charity has been amazing for me and my health and more so my sanity, I have learnt not to suffer in silence, there is help there, its just a shame that it is up to ex service men like Billy to start a charity like this when really we should be getting the help we need from the government.
I am now planning something that I would not of dreamt of doing a few years back. As I explained about the diving, I am planning to break the world record for the longest submerged dive in a controlled environment.
This currently stands at 4 days and 4 hours, so for me this is a huge thing as it will be the first time back diving since the diving accident I was involed in.
At 1000hrs on the 18th of June 2012 I will be starting my Guinness World Record Challenge for my dive challenge at the Underwater Studios in Basildon, Essex and aim to beat the current record by doing 120 hours or 5 days underwater.
I'm doing this as a personal challenge to help me overcome my illness of PTSD and also for to raise awarenes and much needed funds for VIA to enable them to help others who have suffered like me.
To find out more about my Guinness World Record Challenge follow the link below.
With much gratitude Mark