A FALKLANDS veteran who was suicidal after being haunted by the horrors of what he saw in the battlefield is using art to overcome his emotional problems.
Darren Horsnell, from Haslingden, spent 18 months homeless, tried to kill himself and was committed to a mental institution twice as he was tortured by memories of the conflict.
At his lowest point the former Royal Artillery soldier repeatedly self harmed to rid himself of a voice in his head.
On one occasion, he was found by police wandering on a motorway when anxiety and panic attacks made him unable to remember where he was.
Eventually he was diagnosed with chronic Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but thanks to veterans’ charity Combat Stress, he discovered painting was the catharsis he needed to rebuild his life.
Now he is running art classes at Rossendale charity REAL’s office in Bacup for other Armed Forces-veterans fighting battles of their own.
Darren said: “There are some images that never leave me.
“There were 250 Argentinian soldiers we had captured. One was crying and the tears were almost freezing on his face. I knew I shouldn't have made eye contact with him.
“They were just young conscripts who didn't want to be there. I have a recurring dream of seeing that boy and can still wake up sweating and upset by the memory.”
At Combat Stress’s treatment centre Darren was encouraged to try art therapy and he discovered an unknown talent.
Using oils, he paints commissions, everything from wildlife and landscapes to pets.
He said: “When times are hard for me, when it’s painful and when I am depressed or fighting the memories which are all war-related, I can sit at a canvas and start to paint and it all seems to disappear, it just goes by the wayside.”
Darren, a father-of-three, lives in Haslingden with fiancee Tracey Vick.
The classes in Bacup are organised in conjunction with charity Veterans In Action (VIA), which helps sufferers of PTSD.
Call 01706 871730 or go to www.veteransinaction.org.uk.