A FORMER refugee from Iraq has lost 73 pounds after taking back control of his weight, following years of battling anxiety and depression.

In the early 1980s, 12-year-old Thomas Chiad and his parents fled from Baghdad during the Iran-Iraq War to live in England.

Years later he began to suffer from anxiety and depression and was eventually diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Mr Chaid settled down, married and had children but as his health declined he started to pile on the pounds.

But as the 46-year-old, of Kenilworth Court, Melksham, explained: “As the years passed by my depression began to affect my family and eventually my marriage broke down.

“Because of the state of my health, I didn’t see my four children. I gained so much weight, I just lost the will to live.

“My weight increased until I reached over 17 stone and my confidence decreased until I was in a cycle of despair that I couldn’t find a way out of.”

In March last year, he was walking past the Cricket Club Pavilion in Melksham’s King George V Park where Michelle Gilbert was taking a Weight Watcher class. He saw a sign inviting new people to come in and join and thought ‘Why not?’

He said: “My life was in tatters. I was depressed, and my marriage had recently broken down. Knowing that this was partially to do with my weight and my state of mind, seeing that sign made me ask myself if I really wanted things to continue the way they were.

“I wanted to climb out of this pit of despair and repair my life. To do this, I needed to repair me. I knew it was going to be a long battle. But it was a fight I was prepared to take on. “It was going to challenge me both physically and mentally, but I vowed that I would never be this size again!”

During the past 12 months, his weight has plummeted from 16st 7lbs to a healthier 10st 13lbs - a drop of 73lb.

He said: “My focus through the whole journey has been my children. I want to be here for my children, to make myself strong for my children.

“Losing the pounds and doing more exercise has given me a positive mental attitude and helped me get out of those negative thought patterns that held me for so long in that pit of despair.

“I am now fitter than I have ever been in my whole life. I never imagined I would be fit enough to go cycling, go on long walks, go to the gym and run. I used to be far too heavy for any of that.

“I am not used to just sitting around anymore and I must go and do something in the day otherwise I feel tired and lethargic, lazy, I guess I am now used to the adrenalin rush.

“My journey is not at an end, but I feel strong, very strong. This new-found strength will help in overcoming the obstacles which might present themselves in 2018. The fight is not over yet.”