Harry's Story- Mental Health Programme

“I’d been having flashbacks, from my days in the Army, for the past 26 years but hadn’t spoken to my wife about them. Instead, I would take myself off for a walk to clear my head”

Harry joined the Junior Leaders Regiment, Royal Armoured Corps aged 16 before being assigned to 1st The Queens Dragoon Guards. During his career, Harry was trained to drive reconnaissance vehicles including Main Battle Tanks, be a radio operator, gunner, tank commander and was also an instructor.  Harry completed 16 years’ service and left in 1990 having reached the rank of Corporal. After he left the Army, Harry worked as an articulated lorry driver, and off-shore in various roles such as a roustabout, radio operator and mechanic. Due to his experience, he was approached by an off-shore drilling company and spent several years as a radio-operator, travelling around the world working in places such as the USA and Middle East.

Due to the major 'slump' in offshore work in 2015 / 2016, Harry decided to return to the UK and secured employment working as a HGV driver for a local haulage company.

Harry had been aware that his mental health had been deteriorating whilst still in the Army but “the last thing I wanted to do was lose my command.  I clammed up and didn’t dare talk about it.  You keep it to yourself, us men clam up”.
 
Harry was referred to Walking With The Wounded’s Head Start programme by Combat Stress after his wife persuaded him to seek help when it became apparent that his mental health was deteriorating. Harry admits he began to drink more and his family became worried about him because he had changed.

Harry began EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy to help deal with the flashbacks and symptoms of PTSD.  Harry found the first few sessions very hard and tiring, but began to notice a difference in himself by the 4th session. He said ‘I felt I could ‘look into’ my flashbacks. I couldn’t believe it. I can talk about what I saw now – I couldn’t talk to people before without breaking down, or shaking, now I can”.  

He said “the funny thing is that my wife noticed the difference it made to me. It was like being married all over again!  I became happy and cheerful.  Soon everyone noticed the change in me”.

Harry said “the memories are always there but I no longer experience flashbacks. I absolutely thought the EMDR therapy wasn’t going to work but the transformation was amazing”.  Harry was that inspired by the results of the therapy that for a brief period he considered training to become an EMDR Practitioner himself.
 
Of his proudest moment, Harry said “to be honest, stepping forward to go and see someone about how I felt….going through the doors and seeking help”.

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