Medically discharged from the Army, Jordan Robertson sank into a deep depression that left him wanting to take his own life.
As his weight ballooned to 26st, the former Royal Engineer isolated himself from friends and loved ones as his anxiety spiralled out of control.
But a decision to apply for a programme at the University of Sunderland has helped turn the 29-year-old Gateshead dad’s life around.
Now Jordan is looking forward to a bright future and is within touching distance of his of dream of becoming a teacher.
He said: “I could hardly walk, I was 26st, I was ashamed and didn’t want anyone around me. I thought that if I took my own life it would just be easier on everyone.
“Today, I feel lucky to be alive but I know, finally, my life is back on track and things are going well.”
A former pupil of Whickam School, in Gateshead, Jordan initially studied sport at the town’s college before going on to qualify as a plumber.
Disillusioned, he decided, after seeing a recruitment stall in Newcastle city centre, to sign up for the Royal Engineers.
After completing initial training in Bassingbourn Barracks, Hertfordshire, Jordan, along with his wife Stephanie, was posted to Paderborn in the west of Germany.
A keen and talented footballer, Jordan continued to play while in the Army, however he had suffered several injuries and was struggling with his knees and hips.
He said: “The knee operations were starting to stack up, three on each leg. They also discovered I had osteoarthritis from the waist down.
“Surgeons tried to pin, bolt and screw bones into place, as well as taking chunks of bone to try and reshape my legs, but nothing seemed to work.”
Despite medical efforts, Jordan was told he could face never walking again, going on to spend 10-months in a wheelchair.
He said: “I was medically retired from the Army in December 2015, that was when things really started to go downhill for me.
“I was undergoing a lot of rehabilitation, in a wheelchair, my weight got out of control. I was sofa-bound, hiding myself away from life.
“I couldn’t talk about it, I put on a mask, hiding everything. I went to counselling but couldn’t get my head around why everything had gone wrong.
“I’d been a 6ft 5in man with a strong physique who was out enjoying life, then suddenly I was facing not being able to walk.”
Surviving on just a few hours sleep every night, Jordan was diagnosed with clinical depression and it was not until around 2018 that he started to finally get his life back on track.
He said: “I have two children, Sawyer and Parker, and I wanted to be around for them, I wanted to spend time with them and see them grow up.
“I decided I’d like to become a primary school teacher so I’m currently in my second year studying Childhood Studies. I’m then hoping to do my teacher training.
“My wife Stephanie has just started training on a Nursing programme, also at the University.”
Medics have also told Jordan that next year, all going to plan, he should be able to walk unaided for the first time in many years.
“I still need both hips replacing, but both my legs should be in the clear by July 2020.”
So, after a long and painful few years, Jordan and his family are finally looking forward to a brighter future.
He said: “The University has been amazing and really helped me no matter what. It’s like I’m finally starting to get somewhere and now feel comfortable talking about what’s happened.”