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.
As we sat in the middle of our mats, eyes closed, James asked us to picture our 7 year old selves sitting in front of us. And as we breathed our ujjayi breath (ocean breathing) with mouths open, each of us looked into the quizzical face of our 7 year old selves as they looked back and asked, 'How are we doing? How are we doing as an adult?'
I made a promise to myself while recovering from my injuries to always put family and friends needs before anything else. In the ensuing years I have managed to keep this promise. What I could not foresee was how this vow would be tested when I was torn between both family and a friend, at the same time, in the past two months.
"After all this time might I be Bi-Polar rather than still suffering from PTSD?" was the question I posed to Anton Kruger, my psychologist, in March of this year. The reasoning for my question was that it is coming up for 14 years since the train crash which is a significant amount of time. Surely I must be over it by now?
Like any human being, I watched the documentary Hunted with an open mouth and an increasing horror. I also watched it whilst trying to quieten the several fireworks going off in my head at once. The similarities between homosexuals' rights in Russia and sex workers' rights in the UK/Ireland are breath taking.
What if Valentine's Day, or relationships in general, were a stark reminder of the most painful and distressing events that you ever experienced? What if they triggered a trauma so terrifically challenging that it forever altered your approach to life? Welcome to Valentine's Day, and relationships, for adoptees.
There was an almighty thud which echoed about the surrounding Alps as the helicopter crashed and snapped in two. Hundreds of skiers stood and watched with wide-eyed horror during the dreadful and eerie silence that followed as though nature, without exception, always proffers its own mark of respect following sudden destruction and death.
My Grandfather tragically lost his friend on the battlefield and suffered from depression for the rest of his life, which rendered him unable to speak for the days surrounding 11 November. My Great Uncle was severely, severely shell shocked and as an additional complication, the PTSD triggered psychotic episodes during which there was an attempt to break into Buckingham Palace.
As we struggle to absorb shocking incidents like the recent train crash in Galicia, along with sympathy for the grieving families our thoughts also turn to the survivors. And psychologists who specialise in helping people recover from incidents like this know that while some of the surviving passengers will eventually get over their shock and trauma, sadly others will be unable to do so.
Choice is, "Shall we paint the bedroom blue or green?" or even "'Shall we start a family?" Choice is not, "Shall I have constant PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) flashbacks?", nor is it, "Shall I be bipolar and be so hard to live with that my partner leaves me?" It is also not, "Shall I feel so depressed that I'll think about ending it all?"
The hero-soldier brand is undeniably potent. The increased presence of soldiers at sports events - be it at Premier League games or the Olympics - is a shrewd move by the PR-savvy Ministry of Defence. The idea of a wholesome, dutiful hero is very appealing and is very much a feature of British identity, intertwined as it is with our military history and our imperial present.