Bottoming out ...

There seems to be a cycle with my PTSD ... yet whenever I try to describe it it feels like smoke slipping through my fingers ... kind of like waking up from some of my weird dreams ... a flavour of it resides like the smell of something from the past that gives you a hint of the issue or memory but then it's swallowed up quickly and disappears and I'm left frustrated because I haven't unravelled that part of the mystery.

That seems to be how I learn, how I cope ... how I explore myself in order to learn my triggers and why they occur ... and ultimately, what I can do to stop that happening.  It's a continuous, tiring process.  Certain memories of Northern Ireland were locked deep within me and they were bought out over a number of years by various counsellors, psychologists and psychiatrists.  The memory that I described to the Nottingham Evening Post was one of those.  It's a particularly important one as it had an effect on a chain of events when I served in the Metropolitan Police a little while later, back in the 80s.  It's something that I hadn't told anyone about because when the bomb exploded, we were in an area where we shouldn't have been.

I go through periods of time when I need to cease taking all medications for a little while (even though they're mainly herbal - eg St Jons Wort, Valerian and Lemon Balm.  Amitryptaline's the prescribed med), as I feel that a build up of chemicals in the body could be harmful long term.  I listen to my body and it tells me what I need ... the same as if it tells me to eat more fish or fruit ... or a green chilli infested pizza!  I've just got to that stage now where the meds need to be started again ... so I did so on Wednesday. 

So I've bottomed out ... again and am now waiting for that space when I can balance out again and cope in a better way.

My thoughts turn to the service personnel coming back now from various areas and the ones that are wandering around without diagnosis or support.  They're walking around in that 'hell' created by the greed of politicians.  So many Veterans slipped the net of care, not that it existed in any effective way, from Northern Ireland, the Falklands and the Balkans, let alone current engagements ... and what about those that survived and might still be alive from earlier engagements such as WWII and the other engagements since?  A lot of them are on their own and won't ask for help because they know where they have to walk to be able to face the issue ... the mirror to their souls.  It's not an easy journey to make ... but neither is it an impossible one.  There are those that care and will help you if you let them?

But that does have to be a balanced journey.  Service personnel are used to taking care of themselves in tough situations and the approach toward providing them with care must be a balanced one ... eg you empower them to decide a way forward ... together.  One of the reasons that PTSD can develop is through being in a situation where you have no control.  The worst thing you can do to me (or perhaps anyone suffering from PTSD) is to decide something for me, without consultation and leave me in that same space of hopelessness.  I'm an adult that's been coping with this condition for a few years now; 26 years to be exact.  That means that I will probably have more experience in dealing with PTSD than some practitioners.  Some mental health practitioners feel that they know exactly what's needed and try to force a certain way onto Veterans, whether it's medication or other things.  The more switched on Veterans know what will work for them, as they'll have tried different things.  Some of us don't need meds of that sort.  We need someone to talk to, so that we can put our thoughts into some kind of order from the week's processing.  What works for me is a weekly session with a counsellor and he allows me to put my thoughts into order and to allow me to function til the next week.  The mind altering meds, the various other forms of treatment have all been tried over the years and they don't work for me.

What does work is meditation, smudging and sitting in silence ... and having the ability to talk to another person once a week, which I pay for.  The NHS tell you that they're not geared for that though ... and the service I use has a 2 year treatment limit.  I've been referred to a new setup within the NHS.  I'll go along and see if they can offer me what I need.  I'll be honest and say that I don't hold out much hope for that happening ... but I'll give it a go.  If they can't carry on where the counsellor left off, I'll be without support for a while ... again.  The only option that I'll have then is to go back on the waiting list for the voluntary counselling organisation again.  By the way, they're called Nottingham Counselling Services, just in case you want to approach them for your own needs.

The salsa still helps ... any physical exercise does ... but the beneficial effects don't even last 'til bed time at the moment ... and the pain in my body is great by the time I reach home.  Some of the people talk to me at the dances and  I usually have a laugh with a couple of them, which helps a lot.   I still get the odd one that tries to ask about PTSD etc and they have to be reminded that I go to salsa to escape it and it's not appropriate to ask me about the issue when I'm out.  It's nice when I can meet ladies that want to have a little chat while we dance too :o)

Still, it's another day, the leaves and blossoms are appearing on the trees and the sun is shining.  My thoughts turn toward osprey and Scotland and I wonder if the pair that I visit made it back safely from Africa to their breeding spot.



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