Combat Stress ... day 1
The usual stuff. This is my third visit here now. Last year I resigned myself to the fact that I can't cope with PTSD on my own and that this therapy, be it on my terms and a more condensed time frame, is a neccessary part of my coping mechanism and it does help me.
I left Cornwall at 7am and got here just before 12pm. Traffic wasn't bad at all. I felt thew usual surge in anxiety as I drove in through the security gates, which was immediately buffered by the staff that welcomed me in and gently processed me through the arrival procedure: shown to my room, given a cup of tea and then had my body stats checked out (height, weight and blood pressure), followed by donating a sample of urine. I was then interviewed by a member of staff that assesses where my mental health was at with regards to PTSD. The interview finished just in time for lunch.
After some tasty grub I went into the first of the group sessions that I'll attend during the stay. This one was about depression and how it affects us, why it comes about and the cycle that takes place including how it affects my behaviour. It was like doing a refresher course and it allowed me to gauge where I am in terms of the way that I react to certain events. I listened to what other veterans had to say about where they were in the cycle and listened to their stories unfold; seeing myself in similar circumstances with regards to trying to fit in to a society that alienated me ... and I recognised again the struggle within myself that the current hype of awareness has caused .. all of a sudden the public know about PTSD and how it's caused and some people thank me for serving ... but I really don't know what to do with that because it seems a 189 degree turn around on the way that society treated me before ... and still does in a lot of ways as the stigma towards people with mental health problems remains. The stories go deep and there's a sense of camaraderie in the group as we dare to open up to eachother as strangers, sharing feelings that many of us haven't shared with those we love ... if we're lucky enough to have that sort of relationship. For most of us the relationship is that of a father to his children ... some of the other guys talked about the experience of living with PTSD with a partner.
It was nice to bump into a mate here that I'd gotten to know at my last visit. It kind of helps to have a laugh and switch off with someone to balance out what would otherwise be a really heavy week.
Time to chill out and have a walk around the grounds. I want to find out if the local pack of foxes have cubs.