A blog from Army&You’s winter 2021 edition by By Emma Disney, @secretbattlesofamilitarywife

As military spouses it’s safe to say that most of us have heard of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I was prepared for the fact that it could be something my husband and I may have to work through together at some point in time.

What I wasn’t prepared for was me being the one to struggle, have dark days, to hit rock bottom and feel like I couldn’t go on. I was diagnosed with complex PTSD. It came as such a shock – I was a civvy, not a soldier. I was even less prepared for my husband to leave me. I kept my struggles to myself for months, I was so full of guilt, shame and embarrassment. I was worried that people would think I was weak or a failure.

After months of trying to get help I was lucky enough to find an organisation called Phoenix Heroes. They could tell from the first phone call that I was at crisis point. They came to visit me in person that same day and had therapy in place for me within 24 hours. Phoenix Heroes supported both of my children too and I will always be eternally grateful to them.

It’s been a long and winding road since then. Recovery, just like life, isn’t a linear process but I’m thankfully in a very different place today. I’m so proud of myself and my children and how we’ve handled this situation, particularly in the midst of a pandemic and being four hours away from our wider family.

Despite the tough times we’ve had to face, I’m grateful for all that has happened because every situation brings with it a lesson, a greater appreciation for life and the good people that we have around us. I’m determined to turn my experience into a positive and hopefully help to prevent others from feeling as low or alone as I did. I now write a blog to journal my journey and I was incredibly excited to start university in September. A diagnosis doesn’t have to be a life sentence, with the right support network, you can overcome anything.

Emma, her daughter Ashleigh (20), Ashleigh’s boyfriend – a serving soldier – Charlie (22) and son Alfie (9) recently climbed Mount Snowdon to raise funds for Phoenix Heroes – phoenixheroes.co.uk


Emma wins a £35 voucher to spend at Gillian Jones Designs — gillianjonesdesigns.com — for our best blog. Artist Gillian, a former Royal Navy officer and military spouse, specialises in vibrant and contemporary military art and design. If you can’t quite find what you’re looking for, she’s also happy to create bespoke commissions. Follow @gillianjonesdesigns on Instagram and  Facebook, and @GillAJones on Twitter

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