Tom experienced the stigma that can be associated with mental health issues and tried to hide his symptoms from his Army bosses. However his mental ill health deteriorated to a point where in December 2010 he was sent home on extended sick leave. This resulted in him not returning to his unit before being medically discharged in February 2012. As a result Tom was unable to say goodbye to his friends and those he had been on operational tours with, which had a negative impact on him.
During his sick leave Tom had regular visits from the Parachute Regiment welfare officer and was able to enrol in a music course funded by the Parachute Regiment Welfare Trust.
Following his discharge Tom found himself ‘sofa surfing’ at friends’ houses.
He then went to France, Germany and Poland for about six months during which time he became dependent on drugs and alcohol. At a time when his PTSD was severe and his medication was not being managed, he became involved with the police.
Also following his medical discharge, Veterans Aid funded a barbering (hairdressing) course. Although Tom passed he did not take this up as a viable career as he did not feel he was in the ‘right frame of mind.’ However, the course did help Tom to interact with the public which has helped him on his recovery.
In 2013 Tom began to work with a friend who was a builder but found himself in hospital following an injury. At this point Tom’s family intervened and this is the moment he describes as his ‘turning point.’ His Mum has supported him throughout his transition following his discharge from the Army, and also helped him find work at a local Nando’s restaurant and this is where he met his current girlfriend. They now have their own home.
Dealing with his PTSD
Tom was referred to a private therapist in Harley Street, London, who recommended that Tom have two appointments a week. As this was London based it was not a viable option so Veterans Aid sourced an alternative therapist/counsellor closer to home. He now manages his PTSD symptoms through the techniques he has learnt through his counselling, which he finds invaluable. Following the end of the support from Veterans Aid, the Parachute Welfare Trust, supported by funding from Walking With The Wounded, are enabling Tom to continue his treatment, which now includes CBT/EMDR and medication – although he was initially reluctant to try EMDR as he did not like the initial session which he experienced in the Army.
Tom now sees his counsellor, Lisa Slingsby weekly. Lisa has helped him develop techniques to deal with his issues which he believes are working. He now realises that the panic attacks he experiences are as a result of his PTSD and not the various head injuries (three in total) he has suffered. Lisa has helped him see that his PTSD was central to his problems and that this issue had to be tackled to help him deal with the ‘sub-issues’ such as worrying about finances, feeling angry and feeling upset.
He believes that he did not benefit from the training courses he attended previously because he was not ready to progress to working. Following his continued treatment, he is much more confident now and is succeeding in holding down a job and new career.
He says he now: “worries about what normal people worry about” and not other things such as the Army, his experiences and his PTSD.
How Has WWTW helped?
With WWTW support, Tom began training courses in June 2015 and completed them in October 2015. He secured work just one week after completing his Telehandler course and worked for a month before taking another two weeks off to complete his Dumper, Roller and Excavator course.
He has now found full time work via a range of agencies that specialise in the construction industry. Tom is looking to secure permanent employment with one employer but is using the opportunity to work with agencies to build on his experience which ultimately contributes towards his employability.
Tom said: “I have received life changing help and the course has made me feel worthwhile.”
He admits that he has not felt himself since leaving the army.
“I lost everything I stood for when I was discharged from the army and I didn’t even feel like a man.”
He now feels ‘in control’ and ‘like a bloke again’ and working has given him a ‘confidence boost’. He is now a ‘skilled worker’ and this is a ‘brilliant feeling’. He feels like a ‘new man’ and is now ‘confident and in control’.
Tom ‘feels like everything is falling into place’.