I've come to realise that Afghanistan has forever changed me. It has ruined me, destroyed part of me. It has left an intangible impression upon me. At the same time, it has made me, matured me, grown me, expanded my potential as a human being, taught me the importance of life, love and the little things.
Recovery is a journey, as cheesy as that sounds... and the recent weather has reminded me of how possible it is to overcome things, no matter how horrible things get... it's human nature to grow, to try our hardest to move forward and we should certainly celebrate every success (no matter how small...
As PTSD ravaged my mind I believed I was a burden to my family. In fact some days I believed my family would be better off without me. Yet, as I looked at the pictures my heart could see how foolish that was. I was there, there for my babies, doing everything I could and giving them everything I could.
Whilst the London Bombings occurred 10 years ago this month, one only has to look at the cascade of news reports of traumatic events in the UK, and further afield, which affect people from all nations. For those who are affected by PTSD, or indeed by other mental health disorders related to traumatic exposure such as clinical depression, specific phobia or substance misuse, life after traumatic events can be very challenging.
We see every day that a starting point for recovery is contact with other veterans. This rarely quiet and often laughing band of brothers is the key to initial success. Later must come the move to a civilian identity, but the key is to find a civilian identity that is larger than, but includes, a veteran identity.
I have enormous respect for anyone that goes to therapy and extending that, anyone who walks into my office. To walk into a therapist's office (or in my case, a coach's office) admitting you need help and wanting to change is, in my eyes, admirable. In addition to that, to keep going to therapy is hard.
Four salient reasons to resist the rise of trigger warnings in higher education and general usage. For the sake of resisting censorship by stealth, for the sake of artistic integrity, for the sake of maintaining serious intellectual openness in higher education, and for the sake of those suffering from trauma themselves, I beg you - don't get too trigger-happy.
I've discovered that I don't have to let my past trauma define me - it still affects me a little bit from time to time, but I'm confident that those feelings will soon fade away. For any of you out there who have suffered, or are suffering, from PTSD - you are not alone. You can be helped. And it will get better.
PTSD is a silent disorder that might not surface on day one or even day one hundred of their leave. And for soldiers leaving the service, like I did, we should remember their homecoming will take on an extra significance... Finding a new identity on Civvy Street can in its own way be just as much of a challenge as being on tour.