In the book Mark, from Swadlincote, talks about his 10 years in the army where he had an exemplary military record before spending three years as a private bodyguard for government officials in Afghanistan.
Unfortunately, it was in this role that Mark was shot and had to return home where he faced two years of operations to fix him physically. However, he also had to deal with the mental scars of his experiences in Afghanistan, not just his shooting, but witnessing suicide bombings and being injured another two times, including in a roadside bomb attack.
Mark talks openly in his book about his diagnosis of PTSD and his ongoing battle with his mental health but also about the positivity he now looks upon life with his loving family supporting him and a job he enjoys.
Talking about the book and the 22 for 22 challenge, Mark said: “I’m overwhelmed to see how far this project has come and long-term I want to do as much as possible to help sufferers and others understand PTSD and show them that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
“The 22 for 22 challenge will see me run 22km (half marathon) every day for 22 consecutive days. The significance of 22 is that it is the reported number of veteran suicides a day. I will be raising awareness of PTSD and raising money for smaller military charities that can often go overlooked.”
Mark has worked for the NHS for 10 years in his current role within MPFT’s specialist adult dietetic service, based at Hill Street Health and Wellbeing Centre in Burton-on-Trent, delivering a weight management course called ‘In10sity’ throughout the area.
Mark added: “It is a 10 week course designed at achieving 5% weight loss. I deliver an education session which can include topics such as fats, sugars, benefits of exercise etc. and then we do 45-60 minutes of exercise. I love the interaction with patients and I seem to have a good rapport with them.
“Exercise is an essential tool when it comes to mental health in my opinion. When I was first diagnosed with PTSD after returning from Afghanistan I was given numerous different medications to try. None of it worked for me and I felt desperate.
“Due to my military background, however, I decided to turn to my roots and started exercising to help relieve tension and put some sort of order into my brain. I now run 60km a week – when I feel down or anxious at times, I pull out my running shoes and run – you could call me a modern day Forrest Gump!”
Mark would welcome anyone, from any background to join him on any of the 22 legs of his challenge. Please email email@example.com for more details if you are interested and you can also support Mark on his Just Giving page – just search for 22kmfor22days.
Mark will also be signing copies of his book ‘Squad Average’ on launch day, Sunday 28th October at the King’s Head pub in Lichfield – the birthplace of the Staffordshire Regiment. The book can also be pre-ordered now on Amazon.