A ten-day trek through the wilds of Cambodia later this year won’t be the toughest test ever undertaken by Birstall dad Mark Waters.
The 34-year-old bank worker is setting out on the challenge to raise money for the mental health charity that helped him through some of the darkest days of his life during an ongoing 14-year battle with his own mental health.
It’s a battle that started in tragic circumstances when Mark found the body of his dad Chris (inset with Mark) after he died from a heart attack in the lead-up to Christmas in 2005, pushing him into a spiral of depression and anxiety he kept a secret for nearly a decade.
“I’ve only just recently started talking about the problems I’ve had,” he said, “until I signed up for this not even my mum knew anything about it.
“I really struggled for ten years. I used to go on huge drinking binges to block out the pain and would fall out with my wife because of it.
“One night I went out driving really fast, deliberately running red lights. I didn’t want to kill myself, but I just didn’t care. I think I wanted to hurt myself so that people knew I needed help.”
Mark sought help and four years ago and was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. While his battle is far from over, he says the support he receives, along with that of his wife, son and two step-sons, has allowed him to begin to tackle his demons.
“We talk about our feelings,” he said, “I encourage our kids to talk to us. It’s something that I never had and it’s not healthy to bottle things up and hide things. That’s why I struggled so much.”
Mark was selected out of 600 applicants from across the Lloyds Banking Group workforce to take on the Cambodian trek, which will take place in October.
The 100-mile challenge, which Mark will undertake along with 35 other Lloyds employees, will provide a huge physical and mental effort and he is aiming to raise over £4,000 for Mental Health UK. Whats more, he will also take on a triathlon in June to raise more funds.
Anyone wishing to donate to the cause can do so by visiting his fundraising website at uk.virginmoneygiving.com/MARKWaters16.