When leaving the Armed Forces or any long-term career. There is a change not only in the transition from one career path to another but there is also the emotional impact it has. This is summed up beautifully in the Kubler-Ross model below.
Depending on how good the HR staff or the organisation they will recognise this fact and have programs that can help the leaver better cope with these situations and lessen the impact it has on them because they’ll have an understanding that they are going to go through something that other people have gone through before.
Straw poll about work when leaving HM Forces
We conducted a small straw poll to get an idea of the length of time people were in work from leaving the forces and how long they had left as well as how long they were in a job for:
Time Since Leaving the Forces
- 0-3 years 0
- 4-7 years 1
- 8-11 years 2
- 12 or more years 13
Longest time in a job since leaving the Forces:
- 6 Months 1 person
- 1 Year 1 person
- 3 years 2 persons
- 3.5 years 1 person
- 4 years 2 persons
- 5 years 2 persons
- 8 years 1 person
- 18 years 1 person
- 20 years 1 person
The range of jobs were everything from transportation, Science and retail and other things in between.
General experiences of Post Traumatic Stress
The DSM – 5 says PTSD is a mental disorder that can develop after exposure to a traumatic event, war, rape, or a natural disaster.
It is normal to have distressing or upsetting memories, feeling on edge, or trouble sleeping after the event. Everyday activities may be hard to do such as going out and being social, going to work or having healthy relationships with your family and friends.
PTSi/D may start sometime after the event.
A point to note at WMtD we prefer calling Post Traumatic Stress an Injury not a Disorder. We believe that the change of language from disorder to injury can help the suffer heal. What the healing and recovery looks like is as individual as the people experiencing it. This is for information only and not to be used to diagnose.
Symptoms of PTSI/D
A) Reliving the event/s (re-experiencing symptoms) Memories can come back at anytime and can appear to be very real.
- Nightmares, night terrors
- You may see hear or smell something that causes you to relive the event.
B) Avoiding situations or people that could end up with you remembering or reliving the traumatic event.
- Avoiding crowds the feeling of safety and security away from them
- Avoiding driving if you were in a convoy that had been attacked in some way
- Avoiding watching films or tv programs about a similar event you experienced
- Keeping busy to avoid thinking or talking about the event
An increase in negative thought or feelings.
C) Your thinking may be more negative as in how you view yourself and others.
- Feeling numb – not able to positive feelings towards other people or yourself, loss of interest in things previously enjoyed.
- Memory – the event has been “wiped” or changed to something different to less painful to remember.
- Paranoia – the world and everyone is out to get me. No one is to be trusted.
- Feelings of Guilt or shame – you may feel guilty that you survived and your oppo didn’t. There may be shame about a decision.
D) Constantly on the lookout for threats that aren’t there i.e. Walking down a street why is a window open and the others closed on that road.
- Insomnia – not being able to sleep or going to sleep but then waking up a few hours after and not sleeping again.
- Concentrating – Finding it hard to focus
- Loud noises – Again this is avoidance, not wanting to go to firework displays because it triggers recall of the event
- Risk taking – Gambling, abusing alcohol or other substances
Ways to help yourself
- Grounding – Breathing techiques and noticing how you are breathing.
- Meditation/mindfulness – meditation can take many forms such as walking, sitting and having a mantra or something to focus on
- Diet/nutrition – The better diet and more nutritionally dense the foods you eat the more positive the effects on the brain and body,
- Peer support/community – Finding people with similar experiences and sharing with them. Connecting with people is essential in helping to recover.