AN EX-ARMY man who is taking part in Strictly Worcestershire, a charity ballroom dancing competition, has spoken out on his struggle with mental health and is encouraging others to speak out too.

Mark Evans served in the army for 16 years before being forced to leave the service due to being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in 2009.

Mr Evans, aged 48, said: “At the darkest points I was completely isolated, crying and completely introverted with very little communication. No desire to want to do anything, no appetite and a fear of emotional breakdown.

“I was so depressed and suffering with severe anxiety that I contemplated taking my own life on a few occasions. I became very irrational sometimes very angry, next moment crying or just looking out to space at nothing hoping to block all thoughts.

“I was unable to sleep as every time I closed my eyes my mind would race with a million thoughts most of them irrational and unreal. I blocked out all thoughts of the traumatic events and was not processing them as they were very difficult reminders. If I attempted to talk about them, I found that I began to sweat, my heart would beat faster, and my throat would seem to dry up and I was physically unable to say the words as my throat hurt.”

Mr Evans was prescribed anti-depressants and began Cognitive Behaviour Therapy which allowed him to understand and control his emotions.

He added: “I allowed my mind to process them in my sleep and started to talk openly about my emotions and feelings without fear.

“I started to do things that were good for me. I was able to talk to my family and friends. I realised that exercise and eating healthier made me feel good, so I started learning to Salsa dance and have found that I love dancing, hence my participation in Strictly Worcestershire.”

Mr Evans, from Bromsgrove, has found that other coping mechanisms include singing in a local rock choir, attending weekly yoga classes, and also enjoying walks with his partner, Ela Kropornicka.

Worcestershire Ambassadors is the event organiser for Strictly Worcestershire 6, and this year, the money raised will go to local mental health charities.

The event is set to take place at the Chateau Impney in Droitwich Spa on Thursday, May 23.


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