About me

Well here I am again.  Ill be putting myself through more pain and misery as I attempt this challenge yet again.  As some of you know I did this challenge In 2012 and broke the record by 22 mins, however certain evidence was not in place so it was an unofficial world record.  With that said I will be doing it again next year, 2017.

The reasons have changed since 2012, this time Im doing it because Im mad and like a challenge.  So what better way to spend 5 days than underwater.  The text below were the reasons for my attempt in 2012 which Im leaving here as it might inspire someone else who suffers with PTSD and is reading it to actually do something about it and seek help.  It is out there!!

My name is Mark Colman and I’m former member of the Royal Engineers, retired in 1994.  I served on various operational tours around the world including Gulf War I.  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 diving I was working in Canary Wharf when it was still under construction and lost a very close friend of mine. He died in my arms in the water after trying to resuscitate him with mouth to nose.

Air ambulance was also there but could not revive him.  This  had a lasting effect on me, and after  his death I never got back in the water as a diver.

Previous to this my sister also died  in a tragic accident in Zimbabwe.

With both these events and stuff that 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 at the time 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 licensing in the UK with the SIA I could no longer work here either.

At that time I had nowhere 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 properly 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 the others.  Things started getting out of hand and in 2010 was arrested for assault and charged with it.  I have just finished doing community service.  It was after this 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, I spoke to a 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, I did.  It was here I met other lads and lasses with the same as me, but 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 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 losing my friend.  I’m doing this for me but also for the VIA as they need well needed funds to help others like me so I hope to raise a lot of money for the charity at the same time.

5 Responses to About me

  1. My name is Billy MacLeod and i am the founder of the charity Veterans In Action.
    When Mark first contacted me about this challenge I thought it was a great way to raise the profile of VIA and also to raise much needed funds that would allow us to help many more veterans in the future.
    Mark emailed me a letter that he had wrote to send to the broadcaster Chris Evans and after reading it I called Mark and asked him to read his letter and call me back.
    It was only then I believe that Mark realised how honest he had been in the letter about what he had been through.
    Mark called me back around 5 minutes later and he was really surprised at how much he had put into the letter as he had never spoke about it before and there he was putting it all down on paper to send to Chris Evans.
    Mark had previously wrote a testimony for the VIA website and i asked him if i could use this letter as his testimony which Mark said i could and it is now his testimony on our website.
    This for me put the whole challenge into a different light as it was no longer a challenge for VIA, it was now a very personal challenge for very personal reasons.
    people should not underestimate how huge this challenge is for Mark when you take his past into consideration and it shows how far Mark has moved on since first working with VIA.
    This has been with no majic wand from VIA. It’s been down to sheer hard work from Mark and his efforts are being rewarded by having a more settled home life with his dughter Chantal.
    What mark has done can be achieved by anyone comng to VIA for help. Our aim is to help veterans in the direction and choices they make. VIA provide a platform for the veterans to make these changes and it is up to the individual to do all the hard work to achieve their individual goals.
    Mark grabbed this concept with both hands and I am glad to say that Mark is now part of our team and he will go through training so that in the future he will be able to help many more veterans in the future using his own experiences in order to help them.

  2. Helen says:

    Mark,
    Great to meet you and Billy at the Outdoors show. Congrats on getting back in the water and wishing you the best of luck. Helen

  3. Hi Helen, great meeting u as well, try and come for a dive when my challenge is under way….

  4. Ian Spike Smith says:

    Geezer!! Well done mate, no longer a ledge, but a full blown legend!

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