''The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war,no matter how justified,shall be directly proportional as to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation'' --George Washington--
Monday, 4 April 2016
I WAS LIVING THE DREAM
I was living the dream, or so I thought back in 1982 as a young nineteen-year-old soldier. I had just shot down a multi-million-dollar fighter jet, the adrenaline surge was incredible. The small boy that played in his back garden with toy tanks and guns had achieved his dream to be a soldier, but the reality was I had just killed another human being. Not thinking about it then my mind put those thoughts in a box in a deep recess of my mind along with the other horrors I witnessed in the Falklands War.
Decades after the brief bloody War was over my mind started to leak those guarded thoughts and they all came out like a nasty jack in the box. As I have aged I have also begun to self-analyse it bit like defragging a computer, the doctors tell me that its also the reason we have nightmares, which we all experience from time to time, PTSD gives you nightmares on steroids called Night Terrors, where you are literally in an evil place like Hell in your own mind. I do not wish to depress anyone by writing this, just to inform you that anyone can suffer mental illness it’s not just the usual suspects, soldiers, fire fighter, police.
I am a great believer in self-help, I have never been big on drugs, recreational or otherwise although I had more than enough reason to try , I have to have one heck of a headache before I take a tablet, but due to my circumstances I have found writing to be therapeutic, if someone had given me a poetry book as a teenager I would not have been interested, and would have laughed at anyone suggesting I actually try to write poetry, living in a very macho military environment, I would have been the subject of abuse and accusations about my sexuality, I’m glad to say we have moved on a long way from those dark days.
There has also been positive movement in how people perceive veterans with PTSD, at one time some could not grasp the `Post` part and wrongly thought it meant I was somehow a coward and I did receive a small but rather unpleasant amount of hate mail and abuse from fellow servicemen and veteran’s. Now we even have some people pretending they have served in the military and even gave themselves PTSD to garner sympathy and in the worst cases money.
I left the military not even know what PTSD meant, it was a civilian councillor that told me about it and I even argued with her that I didn’t have it, I mean I’m not a coward right? I would not speak and clammed up, I dint know where to start and she told me to go away and try and write down my thoughts and feelings, that’s when the floodgates opened and the words poured on to the page, scribbled with a pencil, it was the begin of my career as an author. Eventually the scribbling was edited and I wrote several books that were published, back in the days when you sent manuscripts by snail mail. I published a No1 best-selling book about my life in the military titled Watching Men Burn, then after a dark period where I tried to commit suicide. I have recently published my first poetry book, screaming in Silence, these poems can be read by anyone, they cover a broad range of subjects, Religion, Divorce, Murder, Politics, and of course War. What I want to leave you with is that even from the darkest painful times of your life, some good and positive can come, I believe that my writing can help people cope and would just ask you to give writing a try yourself, we have amazing caring people around and one of the main keys to recovery is communication, remember you are not alone.