Colin joined the Army when he was 18 years old and served for 18 years. All his service was spent in Northern Ireland, with much of this in Belfast.
When the Troubles ended, he decided to take redundancy rather than becoming a regular soldier of the British Army.
Hear from Colin and his daughter Laura about living with PTSD and how our treatment has helped.
“I struggled with civilian life from the start – I found the transition very difficult. I don’t think I lasted longer than two months in any job. I missed the pattern and routine of life in the Army and didn’t feel like anyone understood me. When my wife got promoted, we decided it would be better for me to be a stay at home dad, looking after our four children. But that wasn’t right for me either – I got stuck in the rut and the depression kicked in.
“I didn’t realise it at the time but what I’d seen and been through during my time in service was affecting me - I wasn’t approachable, I was angry and unknowingly I was mentally cruel to my family.
“I split up from my wife in 2014 and went back to living with my parents. I did manage to go back to work but then in January 2015 I had an accident at work. I was in plaster for three months and bed bound for much of that time. That gave me too much time to think about everything that had happened to me during my service.
“And then a few months later something from my past came up. From that moment on, something hit me – I just didn’t feel right. I started to have flashbacks and suffer with anxiety.
“My GP put me in contact with the local NHS services but that was a disaster, so much so that I contemplated suicide. By chance I found the Combat Stress card – it fell out of my wallet at the time I was feeling the worst but after making the call to ask for help, things started to get so much better.
“I met with the community psychiatric nurse in Belfast in January 2016 and then I did the six week residential PTSD Intensive Treatment Programme in July 2016.
“Most recently I’ve taken part in the community groups in Belfast. They’ve been a chance to learn more about how I can help myself. I’ve also been using the peer support service – sharing my experiences with others really helps me.
“At the start, I found it embarrassing to talk about my mental health problems – it felt like I couldn’t tell anyone but that’s no longer the case.
“Combat Stress has taken away what was thrown at me – I understand it more now. I still need to take it a day at a time but I’m able to face each day now.
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