Army veteran John joined up when he was 20 years old.
Hear from John and his wife, Sue, about living with PTSD and how our treatment has helped.
“I served for almost 13 years in the Royal Military Police, leaving when I was 33 years old. During that time I spent quite a few years in Germany and I also did two extended tours in Northern Ireland, spending two years each time there.
“After leaving the army, I joined Northumbria Police. My skills and experience meant I slotted straight in and I worked there for 20 years. Life was good and I didn’t have any mental health issues…. or so I thought – looking back the writing had been on the wall for many years.
“It was when I retired in 2016 that things changed. I was troubled but I didn’t know why. I thought I was just turning into a grumpy old man. In reality, as I had more time on my hands, things started to come to the surface, more than 30 years after I’d left the army. Looking back now I realise there had been a number of incidents during my time in service that I hadn’t dealt with.
“I was drinking heavily, I had no enthusiasm for life, I was staying out late and avoiding family and friends.
“Sue knew something was wrong – she was the one who noticed the change in me when I retired.
“And it was Sue who contacted Combat Stress for help. She’d done some research about what my symptoms might mean and together we went to see one of the Combat Stress nurses at The Royal British Legion Pop In Centre in Newcastle.
“Attending a Combat Stress group was the first foot on the ladder for me starting to get help. Going to that first group though was horrendous – I found it hard to even just get into the doorway. It was like my first day at school, sitting at the back of the class, saying nothing and trusting no one. I had problems justifying that I was worthy of help as, unlike veterans who have lost limbs, I have no visible injuries. However I was quickly put at ease by the other veterans, who could relate to what I was going through.
“Since coming to Combat Stress, I’ve been able to look back on my life and talk about the things that happened during my time in the army. I wasn’t able to do that at the time – I went from one incident to the next. I’d suppressed so much for so many years but Combat Stress helped me bring things out into the open and deal with how I was feeling.
“After treatment from Combat Stress, I’m a changed person altogether.”
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