'When I woke up, I was just happy I didn't die'

Image source, John Alexander/BBC
Image caption,
Craig Bowler was a keen sportsman who used to play football and rugby

A man who lost both his legs and an arm when he tried to take his own life says his life is much better now.

Craig Bowler, from Olney, Buckinghamshire, said he did not talk about his feelings, he had no control over them and they eventually "exploded".

His message to anyone going through issues was to talk about them, he said.

He is now preparing to represent England in para bowling at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, in Birmingham.

Image source, Craig Bowler
Image caption,
Craig Bowler started to play bowls after he lost his limbs and will be part of the 18-strong England bowls squad for the 2022 Commonwealth Games with Kieran Rollings

Fifteen years ago, Mr Bowler said he was in a very different state.

"My brain just exploded.

"There wasn't any build-up, people didn't notice a difference in me. I had a good job, good career, lots of friends, I was quite a popular person.

"Something must have triggered it, I had no control over it" he said.

Image source, Craig Bowler
Image caption,
Craig said his life was completely different now and he loves spending time with his wife Abby and their two children

He said despite losing three limbs, and being in a coma for a month and a half, "when I woke up, from that day, I was just happy I didn't die".

Things started to change and he married his physiotherapist's assistant, Abby Bowler, from Newport Pagnell, who "nursed him back to life", he said.

"We came friends first, fell in love, we married and we have two beautiful children now."

If you are affected by the issues in this story, you can find support from BBC Action Line.

He said young men did not talk about their problems as there was still "the stigma that you're weak".

"It takes a real man to cry in front of someone and to be open.

"If you don't talk about it, and even if you talk about things and you don't think it's helping, it really is, it makes you feel different about yourself."

Image source, Craig Bowler
Image caption,
Craig has been playing bowls for several years

He said he was now "hooked" on bowls, which he took up after his amputations, despite him thinking it was an "old man's game".

"If someone offered me my old life, with legs and arms, or this life, I'd choose this life any day of the week. I've got a better life now."

He shared his views on opening up at the BBC Radio Northampton Headfest '22 at the Royal and Derngate theatre in Northampton.

Image source, John Alexander/BBC
Image caption,
Craig hopes by sharing his story he can help others open up about how they are feeling

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