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Living with PTSD

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philthespark

Member
Joined
May 27, 2021
Messages
10
Location
uk
Hello everyone, I'm Phil and I'd like to tell you a little about my journey so far into the nightmare world of mental health problems.
I'd never been 'right' as people put it for a very long time, since I was a child in fact, over the years I morphed if that's the right word, through several stages before emerging on the other side. I left school at 15 and was just over four and a half feet tall, I'd been bullied quite a bit at school and hated being there, I couldn't wait to leave!
I got my first job on a YTS scheme and got picked on there too, I hated it really bad, it was no better than school.Over the next 6 months I had a growth spurt and ended up being five feet ten inches tall, great, here we go, now not only did I have the aggression, I also had the height, now all I needed was to learn to fight, and boy did I learn how!
I was only slim, I weighed about 9 stone, but I was lethal, afraid of nothing and I'd fight for fun, a wrong glance or an ill chosen word was guaranteed to get you on my wrong side, and you didn't want that, I wouldn't just give you a slap, I'd destroy you! I won't go into details here, I'm not proud of a lot of what I did, and some of it was well, if the law had got involved I'd have got locked up. I quickly got a reputation for being someone best not upset, a bit like a wasps nest, yes it's there but just avoid it and try not to annoy it.
I served an apprenticeship in electrical installation and began my working life but violence was never far away, in fact my standard method of quitting a job was usually to belt the boss and tell him to shove his job, I was good at what I did and could get another job no problem, leave me alone to get on with it and I was the best worker you ever had, I'd work overtime and not book it down, effectively working for free, upset me though and you'd better be a fast runner!
This wasn't just in my work life, it extended into my personal life too, friendships, relationships, they all went the same way. I got invited to places by people just in case there was any trouble, they knew I'd fight if it was needed, I suppose in a way I was like a guided missile, prime it, point it and press the button! I remember one incident when I was working for a client, she was away at the time and her daughter was at home, she was about 21, they'd had some bother and this guy rang up and was threatening to go round and cause problems, she rang her mum as she was scared and asked what to do. Her mum (my client) asked if I was there and the girl replied that I was, 'in that case if the guy turns up, lock the doors and send phil out, he'll eat him' she told her daughter, christ what was I some kind of guard dog!
There was lots of incidents like that, looking back far too many for my liking actually, in fact the only good thing to come out of that era was that it was on one of these 'jobs' that I met my second wife, she's fantastic and the best thing that's happened to me in a long time!
I met her through mutual friends, we went out for a few drinks several times and it turned out that she was having problems with an ex-partner, they'd been split up for years and he'd been making her life hell on and off, well he found out she was seeing me and it all kicked off big time. We'd been out one Friday after work and I went back to her house for a drink, this guy rang up threatening her and I told him I'd be there all weekend and if he wanted to come round then he was welcome, but bring a body bag, because thats what he'd be leaving in! I stayed that weekend (he never came) and eventually I sorted him out and we just clicked, three months later we were married
She soon realised I had issues, I was never violent to her, (I was brought up not to hit women but I hate people who do) but she saw a lot of stuff, not just the violence, but also the bouts of depression, and they could be really bad. I saw doctors and psychiatrists, they were useless, I didn't trust them and wouldn't open up, maybe I just wasn't ready?
One day my wife asked me if I'd go and see a woman at work (she worked in a hospital) I said I would, more to keep her happy than in the hope of gaining anything, it was the weirdest appointment I'd ever had. She invited me into her office and offered me a drink, then we sat and chatted, just chatted, like you'd do with a mate down the pub, no probing questions just chat, to be honest she was that kind of a person I felt like asking her to go to the pub for a drink with me, not to chat her up, just because she was good company. I ended up opening up and telling her things I'd never even told my parents, the physical assaults and beatings I'd had when I was around 7 or 8 at school, it all just came out, finally, about an hour later she told me something. I wasn't suffering from depression, I wasn't psychotic, I wasnt even a raving madman, what I was, was a sufferer of PTSD! But I can't be, I've never been in the forces, or been in a traumatic accident I protested, no, she thought I had PTSD and that was that, she'd introduce me to another friend who would be able to help me.
Now I don't know about you, but I'm a bit weird (at least I think so) if I happen to like you (and I'll decide this in the first five minutes) then I'll do anything for you, I'll chat about anything, I'll really open up, if we don't click then go talk to a wall, it'll be more responsive. I waited for my appointment with a mixture of curiosity and apathy, would we click, would she be any good, then on the other hand I didn't really give a toss, I was going through the motions, humuring people, I'd become quite good at that.
The day arrived and I went to meet her, it wasn't in a hospital or clinic (places I don't like) it was in an office block, she had the same name as a famous actress and for some reason we clicked at once, no probing questions, just a long chat, then she asked if I'd have a little 'game' on a laptop, it would ask questions and I'd answer them, then at the end it would come up with something, I said I'd give it a go, it sounded interesting, anyway it couldn't be worse than all the psychiatrists I'd seen over the years.
The results of this little 'game' were mind blowing, the 'score' for determining a persons level of PTSD ran from something like zero to thirty five and mine was thirty three, the worst she'd ever seen in someone outside a combat theatre, in other words, a non military person. This left me confused, how was it this bad, yes I'd seen bad crashes, people hit by cars, I'd seen a few of them, 2 young kids killed by a train, house fires, Christ, I went looking for these things, I had a car that resembled a cross between a police car and a paramedic unit, rather than get upset I thrived on this stuff, a big 'job' could make me feel great for days, I'd go home and think about how I'd treated injured casualties, or closed roads and directed traffic, no there was no way I had PTSD, she was wrong, only she wasn't, was she.
She went on to explain that it was the brutality at school that had caused all the problems, not stuff I'd seen in later life, in fact what had happened as a kid had actually hardened me against it, yes I'd have nightmares and wake up screaming, but it was always about school, put me at the scene of a major incident, let me deal with broken bodies and torn limbs and I'd come home and sleep like a log, but certain smells or songs, or even the sight of a wooden ruler, and I knew it was going to get unpleasant later.
Anyway I've waffled on enough for now and don't want to bore everyone, there's a lot I don't understand as yet and I still have problems, but I think I have to just live with them.
 
jajingna

jajingna

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 31, 2020
Messages
5,185
Location
Canada
Yeah, trauma is sneaky like that, comes in many forms, not just major stuff like soldiers see; think they were the first recognized sufferers of it, is all, and now the professionals know how widespread it is, affecting all sorts of regular people.
 
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philthespark

Member
Joined
May 27, 2021
Messages
10
Location
uk
I wrote the above earlier and it was only later that I realised I hadn't actually told you all how I ended up with PTSD, or the problem I'm left with, which in a way made the whole post pointless!
Well, in the early 1970's schools were vastly different to the way they are now and certain teachers still had lets say, old fashioned beliefs,one of these being that left handedness was abnormal and could be beaten out of a person.
I just happened to be left handed and in our school our 'writing lessons' were taught by the headmaster, an elderly man who just also happened to be a local JP. Anyone caught writing with their left hand would be subjected to instant and brutal punishment, usually the bringing down of a large wooden ruler edgewise across the knuckles of the errant pupil. This wasn't the end of it though,once a person had been singled out their lives would be made hell for the duration of their time at that school,in my case about two years, from about the age of 7 until 9.
Every time this guy saw me I'd be in for a brutal beating, on more than one occasion I was thrown across a classroom, and hit, I began to dread going to school. I wasn't the only one and I can remember one poor girl who was so afraid of this man that the mere sight of him was enough to cause her to urinate in her underwear, after almost 50 years I can still remember that poor girls name.
Several years ago on an internet forum I made contact with a woman several years younger than me, she began to tell me a tale of how sexual abuse at the junior school she had attended as a child, I told her about the physical abuse I suffered and at some point we mentioned the names of the schools it transpired we'd both gone to the same one. She told me that one of the teachers had been found dead in a cloakroom one morning and it was suspected he'd taken his own life, the other man the head teacher lived for a great many years before passing away from natural causes. Shortly afterwards this woman left the forum and I was unable to make any further contact with her, maybe she found opening up too much to cope with, I just don't know.
Anyway on to the second point, the bit I struggle with, the counsellors I spoke with all advised me to make a police report of this, I refused, what would it acheive, there would be no prosecutions all it could possibly do would get my name in the papers and bring unwanted attention. The thing is this, because of what happened back then I just wanted to leave school and get away from every form of authority, now I've been told that the fact that I went to college and trained as an electrician was an acheivement in itself and I suppose in some way it was, but it wasn't what I really wanted to do, and thereby hangs the problem.
All those years ago all I really wanted to do was become a police officer, but because at the time the training was like going back to school for a year I didn't do it, I had a phobia, or more accurately a fear of teachers.
Over the years as well as working I studied law as a hobby, managed to take time out from the electrical work to work in a special organisation working with the local police force, I even managed to become trained as an advanced police driver, one of my proudest acheivements. I had a spell where I trained a police dog, studied all the police manuals and became very profficient in police traffic procedure, to date my list of things involving the police consist of closing several roads following bad road traffic collisions, recovering 2 stolen vehicles and helping to close down an illegal chop shop (a place that does things with stolen vehicles), helping arrest 5 youths after discovering them breaking into a business premises on a holiday weekend, I personally followed a drink driver after a hit and run giving a commentary until the police arrived to stop and arrest the driver, assisted in the recovery of a firearm that led to the conviction of a man for several murders in a high profile case (I'm not allowed to mention the details)as well as several other incidents I've been involved in over the years.
I'm so well known locally that if there's an accident and I happen to be passing I'll stop to assist and the local police are more than happy to have me there, one even commented that it's like having an extra police car on scene given the equipment I routinely carry for deployment at an incident.
I'm not some kind of nutter, what is often termed a 'police junkie', I genuinely wanted to be a traffic cop, indeed my level of knowledge is such that I can and indeed often do talk to the officers on their own level, I recently bought the latest police handbook to keep up with the latest changes in traffic law, on several occasions I've actually been mistaken for an off duty officer and asked which force I work for, such is the level of my knowledge and skill, and this is where my biggest problem comes from.
I've proved I can do the job, I know I can, the police know I can, but at almost 56 years old it's never going to happen, I have to be content with just helping out as and when I can and this is what upsets me. I'm constantly looking back and telling myself that if all that happened at school hadn't then I'd have joined the force and had a full and happy career doing something that I really love. People tell me how good I am as an electrician and yes it's true I am good, very good in fact, but its always been my second choice, I've enjoyed the job but it's not what I really wanted to do it was as I said my second choice and I was always told that in life there's no place for second best, ergo I failed.
How do people deal with something like that is my question, I can look back on those teachers and see them for what they really were, pathetic bullies who'd happily knock hell out of little kids but probably would run a mile from someone who could fight back. I remember running into that headmaster in town once when I was about 18, he still recognised me and went white when I walked up to him, I just told him how much of a pathetic loser he was and walked away, I always regretted not killing him there and then, but that would have just lowered me to his level and I'm better than that.
I can understand it when the families of murder victims or rape victims say that while the offender got X number of years it's them that's doing the life sentence because I too was a victim of a crime although I never reported it and neither did anyone else as far as I'm aware. I guess what I'm really asking is, how do I move on from this? I'm in my mid fifties now and time is running out, I'm never going to realise my dream so how do I settle down and accept what I have?
 
jajingna

jajingna

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 31, 2020
Messages
5,185
Location
Canada
I'm over 50 also, and just accepting things didn't go as wanted over the years, is not always simple to do. Regrets are a drag for sure. But there is more to come, and what can ya do about days long gone anyway?
 
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