“Definitely not for me”, I mused to myself often – the thought of chemical dependency being added to my then problems, filled me with absolute dread!
I ultimately came, face-to-came with a real-life (NHS) psychiatrist – As a former soldier with some three and a half decades of service under my belt – and having lived a hundred lives – all rolled into one – this was the first occasion that I had actually engaged in conversation with a doctor of psychiatry – and she was in-place to attend to me – this made the entire experience even more confusing – and more bizarre than it already was, but soldier-on, I most certainly did!
I soon started on a course of anti-depressants and visited my psychologist on a weekly basis for forty-five minute sessions of cognitive therapy. Over the next few months, my grey disposition began to lift significantly as I learnt strategies to regulate my mood – eventually working through the emotions associated with the trauma I was enduring.
Today pleasingly, I can report that I have managed to overcome the frightening, (I don’t use this word loosely) symptoms that dwelt within my wits for nearly an entire year.
There is an old saying that addresses the robustness of former soldiers, thus; ‘You can take the boy out of the Army – but never the Army out of the boy,” – and there-in lay the source of the entire problem.
I had returned to civilian life without an Army uniform – but quite [unwittingly] had attempted to negotiate what lay ahead – in my capacity as a private citizen – with a totally unnecessary, all-too-tough, military frame of mind. I also became impatient with what I regarded as inherent frailties within society, thus failed repeatedly to adjust to a world bereft of military doctrine – and abhorred the fact that my one-time lofty position within the command structure of the Army had simply no place outside of the Headquarters and Regiments that I had served with over many years.
It took a mere five minutes to return my army clothing and equipment to the Quartermaster’s Store on that fine summer’s day, back in 2011 – sadly, it took a further two years to finally bid farewell to a life that once was – it has no relevance in a peace time environment – and thank God for that!
Much of my time these days is spent writing, with odd spells of lecturing thrown-in. As part of my therapy last year, I was invited to start scribbling my innermost thoughts. This was an interesting option, I had been employed as a writer by the Ministry of Defence for many years, it was my job, it’s what kept the loaf of Hovis on the table, so to speak – yet here I was being encouraged to write about matters, or issues that I had chosen not to confront, particularly during the immediate post-Army years.
So bizarre was this garrulous, (if not hugely enjoyable and revealing) exercise in personal essay production – I had little or no idea if I was even permitted to descend into the utilization of Anglo-Saxon syntax? – Ergo; profanity, but not vulgarity, being put in-place by me to embellish, specific areas of my reservoir of recollections.
I stressed to my counselor that the ‘read-back’ process of such reminiscences could be a rather dull undertaking, without the insertion of the odd curse word especially – “After all, I was in a previous life, a professional soldier – but many moons ago.”
Her acknowledging smile suggested we were finally making progress – indeed, we were!