Walking away from NHS care ...
The whole experience of relocating to the Midlands was painful and I've recognised that there was an additional trauma piled onto whatever I already deal with: leaving my children behind. Not having a closer presence in their lives.
We hear from eachother once a week, sometimes more, sometimes less, but the visits are regular now and that's a good thing.
The trauma birthed by serving in 2 police services and subsequent roles where I have defended people in society continues to live inside me, fully merged with my being but my spirit has stepped back onto the 'Red Road'. The triggers, nightmares and flashbacks are still there. The hyper-vigilance continues to keep other people safe and prevents bad isutations from developing ... and those that are afraid of my openess about PTSD continue to keep their distance. The morning meditation and exercises give me some peace.
As I get older, I have to work harder at staying in touch with 'me' and I have to work harder at exploring my dark side - in order to ensure that it doesn't ever get out of control.
The NHS Mental Health teams in Nottingham became a trigger in the end, as I was passed from practitioner to practitioner, none of whom except one - in my estimation - knew anything about PTSD in veterans or how to deal with us or to build the necessary bridge to the likes of us. We are as strong as we are vulnerable, we are as vulnerable as we are strong. So to go in front of a 'specialist' and be expected to spill our guts when the practitioner's got an eye on the calender and budget rather than finding out what we need becomes an unrelaistic scenario and perhaps one that many veterans will veer away from.
So what do we need? It varies from person to person and the depth of our trauma. It also varies on when you catch someone in the care net. I wasn't diagnosed until 12 years after contracting the condition. I was ridiculed and left to my own devices while subjected to injustices and criticism based on ignorance and prejudice. Some of us are extremely isolated as a result of this condition. We have no regular contact with friends or family. Some of us work on ourselves every day of the week, washing out the darkness and bringing in clean energy ... but every now and then, we just want to sit with someone that can listen to us without judging us; that will let us be vulnerable on our own terms rather than the intrusive mind rape that some NHS practitioners enforce upon us to satisfy their tick boxes and mind numbing questionnaires about where were are in our condition. The consultants' reports already tell them that. One of the elements that cause PTSD is being in a situation where you have no control ... in my case being bricked and bottled, nearly having my head shot off and once nearly taking my own life towards the end the 2 years of misery in Northern Ireland that were at the centre of this 19 year old boy's life.
The 46 year old man bearing the scars of the 19 year old boy still fights the demons within, still walks with honour and wants you to understand this condition, so that the next time you meet someone else, male or female, that open up enough to you to let you know that they're a Veteran with PTSD, you'll perhaps treat them with a little respect, not just for the battle that they fought for some society in the past, but for the one they are having to fight by themselves today as a result of having risked their lives for some of you.
I share a smile with you as the scent from the recently opened jasmine flowers washes over me with its gentle energy ...
'Mitakuye Oyasin' (meaning 'All my relations' - a Lakota prayer).