I am inspired by art, I am alive because of art. I am inspired by life.
I suffered a severe Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) whilst commanding B Company, 2 Mercian in Afghanistan in 2009. My life changed irrevocably the moment the shrapnel exploded into my brain. In March 2012, after three years of rehabilitation, I was medically discharged from the Army.
I had not practised art since my O Level in 1985, but I became intrigued as to whether it would help my recovery; I had suffered depression since 2010 due to the impairments of my injury. I soon found that painting helped me immensely, and I used it primarily as a form of rehabilitation and therapy.
I have attempted to find a new identity but have struggled. My motivations and desires to do well within my abilities remain the same, but I cannot keep up with these aspirations due to my brain impairments. These difficulties fundamentally restrict what I can do in ‘work’ terms. My capacity to engage my brain in productive thinking is severely reduced.
I adore painting. It is enticing, exciting and therapeutic. To paint is to be alive. I am drawn into the subject and do not find the process of creating works of art exhausting, as I do most other activities. I am able to do this, and so I chose in 2014 to become a professional artist.
I have also found rehabilitation and a joy for living through other means: theatre work, writing, singing and participating in charitable causes. I am delighted to have raised over £90, 000 for charity over the last few years, in part by selling some of my artwork at charity events.
My involvement in charitable work has opened yet another door to my recovery, beginning in 2012 when I was asked to speak at events held by the Poppy Factory, the On Course Foundation and the Army Benevolent Fund. I had received support from these military charities during the early period of my recovery and transition into my new life, and – despite my chronic fatigue and memory difficulties – it was very easy for me to speak on their behalf. My sense of self, confidence and well-being grew out of these speaking events, and I realised how beneficial the talks were to myself and others. I now speak at engagements throughout the country and abroad, offering insights on leadership and the importance of positive thinking to our lives. I am always delighted when audience members approach me after a talk to unveil their own concerns, worries or traumatic experiences.
I have suffered physically, neurologically and psychologically. Yet I have learnt a great deal since my injury, and do not want to waste these very important lessons. My life is a wonderful life. I can see beauty in anything I choose. The quality of our thinking determines the quality of our lives. I am trying to give hope, comfort and inspiration to myself and others.