THANK you for the article Back from the brink in the autumn edition of Army&You (pictured above). I was convinced it was written about my husband until I saw the name.
Like Capt Taylor in the article, my husband was posted overseas straight from seven months in Iraq without Post Operational Tour Leave.
In our case, it took five years of physical symptoms and two-and-a-half years of endless investigations without a diagnosis. Then I suggested that he might need to see someone about it being a mental health issue – not an easy subject to put to a six-foot infantry officer.
He was seen by DCMH and received support from various professionals. Eventually they diagnosed a form of combat stress due to his body being under high levels of stress for such a long time.
His body was unable to switch off and his brain made him have physical symptoms (aches, muscle spasms, pain in limbs, night sweats, poor sleep quality to name a few) to try to keep him safe. As a wife, it was hard not knowing how to help. He says I was a great support, but it took its toll. He was moody, would overreact to the smallest thing and was, at times, distant and went off to follow hobbies as his way of escape.
It all got too much for me and I contacted Healios, which was great. Most importantly it was someone to talk to. He is on the mend and has recently qualified via the Army as a mental health first aider and instructor.
He is hoping to raise the profile of mental health and help others. The number of people I have spoken to who say their soldier is similar is quite alarming.
A soldier doesn’t have to have seen atrocities on deployment to be affected. It is a hidden/taboo subject that people don’t like to discuss. The most useful thing for families in our situation is getting the chain of command to recognise this as an important issue and take it seriously.
Extremely heavy workloads across the Army are having a huge impact on the mental health of soldiers.
So please keep up the profile of mental health issues. It doesn’t just affect the soldier but the family too.
Name and address supplied