Matt's recovery journey assisted by creative workshops

Friday 22 June 2018

Enlisting in 1984, Matt Wightman had dreamt of a life in the Army since he was 15 ½ years old. Posted to Northern Ireland in 1987, an 18-year-old Matt witnessed friends injured, with some being driven to suicide.

Re-deployed in 1991, traumatic memories of his first posting were triggered, and upon seeking help Matt was told to pull himself together. Desperately trying to remove himself from the situation, he joined the Intelligence section and re-trained as a surveillance photographer.

Sadly, Matt continued to suffer mentally, and a deployment to Bosnia in 1994 further triggered what was later to be diagnosed as Service-related PTSD, anxiety and depression.

Leaving the Army in 1999, Matt struggled to suppress his underlying mental health problems: “The hardest part of having a mental illness is that you seesaw – you can be on a high and feel able to work, but then experience a real low and are unable to hold down a job.”

It wasn’t until 2015 that Matt was finally diagnosed and offered much needed support. Referred to Help for Heroes, Matt’s ongoing recovery has been aided by a number of activities, including guitar making workshops: “I have never played a guitar. I just like music and thought I would have a go. Now I will have to learn to play! My new guitar has reignited my interest and I will definitely do more."

“On the Road to Recovery, the destination has become less important. What matters now is that I’m comfortable with the journey.”