Thursday, 26 June 2008
THE LAST POST...... LEST WE FORGET
Just want to respond to the amazing comments that I've received about my post about PTSD.
My wonderful Granpa was in the WWI he was with his older brother and his twin brother on the Somme. Both of them were killed in action there and Granpa was sent home like Private Ryan to serve the rest of the war in Cambridge teaching new soldiers.
He was the most gentle soul, when he was 70 I bought him what I thought was a wonderful present, I was about 14 . It was a recording by a man called Vince Hill of the song Roses of Picardy. I knew it had been a first World War song. I thought in my innocence that Granpa would like it. I played it in front of the family. He sat there crying and not saying a word. I don't know if anyone spoke, I don't have any more memory of the event.
I don't know if he ever talked about his experiences. And it was only years later after his death, when his stolen diary turned up that I got the chance to read his story of being sent out to France till the day his beloved twin brother died, when he stopped writing.
I have always felt powerfully drawn to the history of WWI, and in the last two years have been to both Ypres and to the Somme. In the later I saw my Great Uncles name carved into the monument at Arras, Granpa's twin brother.
In my job I work counselling anyone the GPs send me. I specialise in getting people to deal with their emotions be they anger or sadness or whatever. I do not exclusively work with ex military, they are just a group I'm seeing more of and doing some intensive work with at the moment. But then I'm also doing that with a fair few people at the moment.
And in answer to one of the comments, or course hundreds of servicemen and woman will not need counselling. Just as not all the population needs it. Although I think everyone would actually benefit in knowing healthier ways to deal with their feelings. Especially those who use stress related disorders like depression and anxiety or addictions to deal with their stuff.
I only work with people who have reached a point in their lives for whatever reason that they feel trapped by their own ways of working emotionally, and they come needing to find a different way so as they can make sense of their worlds.
So crying and yelling works in a way that when tried, is a real eye opener to the person who has been severely stuck emotionally before. It's not some wacky sort of cult stuff I'm advocating here. It's learning to be whole emotionally and logically and not frightened of our feelings. We all have them, we're born with them. But we don't all feel at ease expressing them.
I'm never happier in therapy than when I get women letting go of their rage and men crying, so working against the typical stereotypes of how each gender should behave.
Psychological distress has been around for ever, I agree you can find it in any poetry from the WWI poets. The only difference now is we know it's coming. Back then nobody knew about psychiatric illness being as result of warfare. Pat Barker's trilogy about this makes fantastic reading as it looks at the development of the psychiatry service that continues today.
This time though WE know that the young people who return will be likely, but of course not definitely, be suffering from PTSD.
We the people here have a responsibility of care for them. Brushing it under the carpet will not do. Thinking that it's not real won't work. If we do this we will have a situation like that in America related to their Vietnam vets.
The armed forces need their disciplined and obedient soldiers.
We need normalised young people back.
The photo at the top is of Tyne Cop, the biggest Commonwealth Grave in the world. There are 11,000 bodies buried there, and 50,000 names engraved on the walls of the monument of unfound bodies in Ypres.
Lest we forget.