Craig Mealing joined the army when he was 16 and completed tours of Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan during his 23-year service.
After leaving the army, he turned to alcohol and found home life difficult. He was aggressive and had night terrors. He became homeless as a result of his mental health problems and in November 2015 was diagnosed with PTSD.
I thought I was fine but I was drinking to cover up my mental health issues
“When I left the Army in 2013, I was drinking heavily but I still managed to get, and hold down, a good job,” Craig says. “I thought I was fine but really I was using drink to self-medicate and to cover up my mental health issues.
“Alcohol really got a hold of me – I’d go to work, do my job and then come home and drink on my own. It was my partner at the time who said I needed to get help after there were a couple of occasions when I lost it with her.
“I was diagnosed with PTSD but just after this I became homeless as, due to my behaviour at home, my partner had kicked me out.”
It was at a two-week residential course with Combat Stress that Craig first sat behind a potter’s wheel.