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Anthony's story


Competing in the Invictus Games

Anthony Booth competing in the Invictus Games

We are really pleased to share that Anthony Booth, one of our UK colleagues, will be competing in the Invictus Games for Team UK this September; taking part in the archery, sitting volleyball, and wheelchair basketball events. This is a really exciting achievement and we are very proud to have Anthony competing in this fantastic event. The Invictus Games is an international multi-sport event held for wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women, both serving and veterans. It aims to inspire recovery and showcase the resilience of the Invictus community. The event encourages greater international understanding of and respect for those who serve their country by supporting the rehabilitation of wounded, injured, and sick service personnel and veterans.

Anthony joined QinetiQ in April 2019 after being medically discharged from the Royal Air Force after 30 years of service. Throughout his career, he was deployed to the Falkland Islands, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, Australia, and the USA, during which time he was able to play a lot of sport, specifically rugby and cricket. However, both Anthony’s sports and operational tours caused him several musculoskeletal injuries that still affect him now.

Anthony’s experiences have also had a lasting effect on his mental health, meaning that he now lives with PTSD, Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Depression. With first-hand experience of living with mental health conditions, Anthony is a really inspirational colleague who has shared his personal experiences and positive outlook on life to help others try to improve their situations.

Hear in Anthony’s own words how he manages his mental health and wellbeing below:

For me I think the biggest and most positive change I have noticed on my journey is the language I now use to describe my mental health. I now say ‘living with’ and not ‘suffer with’ PTSD, Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Depression. This albeit a simple change has been a recent discovery for me and has enabled my whole mood to change. I now recognise and focus on the positives in life rather than the negatives. I now have a new tool in the box.

I turn to the tools which I have been taught, things like Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Rectangular (Box) breathing or those tools identified and provided by QinetiQ. My main tools though are my hobbies and my sports. My hobby is woodworking which keeps my hands and mind focused on whatever I am attempting to make at the time.

I also lead a more physically active life; coaching and partaking in Archery, playing Sitting Volleyball for the Salisbury Spitfires, Wheelchair Basketball, and my newest passion, CrossFit. All of these physical activities are great for my health and fitness but also play a significant part in helping with my Mental Health. When things get really difficult, whether that be with too many unconnected thoughts rushing through my mind at once (effecting focus and concentration and remembering things) or having attacks of anxiety, which leave me not wanting to go out anywhere but at the same time wanting to escape to the open air away from everything and everyone. Or even having bouts of feeling really low and depressed, again turn to the tools I have been taught.

I find the meditation exercises on the QinetiQ wellbeing page really helpful, I have the Thrive App on my phone but the ones I use the most currently are the meditation activities on the YuLife App and the music on Spotify from Headspace. These tools really do help me to hit the reset button and move forward. Through all of this though, the best thing is to be open and honest with yourself and talk to others. My wife recognises before I do when I am starting to regress and knows just the right thing to say to me and at the right time. I also have supportive work colleagues.

The main take away is we all have it within ourselves to be open and honest about how we are feeling. Mental Health is a thing, it can happen to anyone, even years after a trauma. The first step is to be strong enough to reach out for help and to be receptive of help offered. It is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength and positivity that you can do this, you can overcome this and move forward. Look out for each other and tread carefully in the lives of others.

Thank you, Anthony, for speaking so openly about your experience living with mental health conditions, we are certain that your words will be helpful for many others. As an employer committed to supporting veterans, reservists and family members of those in the armed forces working in QinetiQ. We are incredibly proud of what Anthony has achieved and we look forward to following his journey and watching him compete in September.

To watch Anthony compete, the Invictus Games will be broadcast live on the BBC or you can also stream all the action via the BBC website or BBC iPlayer. For more information, please visit www.rbl.org.uk/Invictus.