A Deptherapy Blog

The Extent Of Psychological Trauma Among Those We Work With Causes Concern

by Dr Richard Cullen


Posted on October 30, 2018 at 16:00 hrs



TOM OATES HAS BEEN TO HELL AND BACK BUT SADLY THERE ARE MANY MORE WHO ARE IN HELL, LOOKING FOR A WAY OUT

"But the tigers come at night

With their voices soft as thunder

As they tear your hope apart"

'I dreamed the dream' - Les Miserables

 

I will come back to Tom Oates later in this piece but PLEASE, PLEASE read it all this is such an important subject.

 

84 men under the age of 45 in the UK take their own lives each week

 

Against evidence of an increasing number of young veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts taking their own lives the Ministry of Defence has announced it will investigate the matter.

HELL ON EARTH

 

How true those words are for many of those who we work with and who suffer from psychological trauma. The demons for many visit them at night or when they least expect it.  For many their trauma means they live in a hell, one not of their own making but created by the external trauma they have suffered.

 

Understanding psychological trauma is difficult for most, to really understand I think you have to have been to hell yourself. To understand how it consumes your life, destroys your feelings of self worth. A hell that is continual darkness, with demons appearing all around you.  For many sufferers night time is a time to be feared, a time when hell comes to life.

 

THE EXTENT OF PSYCHOLOGICAL TRAUMA AMONG THOSE WE WORK WITH CAUSES CONCERN

On the first night of our Roots Expeditions we ask programme members to introduce themselves to their fellow expedition members and if they wish talk about their Service to Queen and Country and to describe their mental and/or physical injury.  There is no pressure, not even a requirement to speak.  No pressure to please sponsors there are none there, just programme members and the instructional team.

 

We create a safe, non judgmental environment that allows programme members to speak honestly and openly about their feelings, either in open forum or on the basis of 1:2:1

 

We listen

We give reassurance

We encourage those who need professional help to seek it

We encourage self help strategies. 

 

11 OCTOBER 2018

 

The team we stunned by the level of emotion that cascade from programme members at our introductory meeting. It started when Jason Cowan revealed he had tried to take his own life by hanging, while deployed in Afghan.  What followed, the level of psychological trauma suffered by new programme members was overwhelming. As the week progressed during 1:2:1 discussions the number of new programme members who had been seriously considered taking their own lives in the recent past was daunting. Most concerning was one programme member saying that "If I do it I will make sure I die".

 

Two of our new programme members Keiron Bradbury and Adam Lawrenson both shared with us that their sleep patterns at home were disastrous but at Roots they had slept soundly and peacefully. Keiron showed me the evidence of his sleep patterns on his iPhone.

 

WE know what we do works from the Sheffield University Medical School study but we don't know why. I sincerely hope that Mary Barrie's research will show why we are successful. Tomorrow we will publish Adam Lawrenson's report on what Deptherapy has done for him.  Powerful, emotional and tear jerking it brings to life what we do.

 

TOM OATES

 

Those of you who follow us will know Tom Oates' story and that a couple of months ago, when in a very dark place he tried to take his own life.

 

Tom is a lovely guy but the trauma he suffered has left him in his own words as an 'empty shell', those words apply to many of those we work with.



Pressure built on him to the extent he could see no relief other than to take his own life.  As a close friend of Tom's I am glad he lived to see a life beyond the barricade which is PTSD.

 

HARD TO CALL

 

For Tom to come on the October Expedition there mountains to climb - assessments around the risk to himself and others that taking him diving raised. The reputational  risk to the charity if he took his own life while on the expedition. Medical there were huge issues - whether he could dive on the medication he was taking and if so to what depth.

 

BUT the Board was very clear Tom should go to Roots, he should if at all possible dive, he should mix with his brothers in arms.  I never doubted Tom, I know what diving means to him, a release, freedom and a sense of achievement.

 

DAILY ASSESSMENT

 

Tom and one other programme members had daily assessments as to their mental state and to look at any effects, such as narcosis caused by their medication.

 

TOM OATES  PADI AOW & DEEP DIVER

 

I am pleased to report that TOM smashed it and achieved his goals for the expedition to become an Advanced Open Water and Deep Diver.

 

Everyone rallied to To, the Dive Team and fellow expedition members alike and a huge thanks goes to Dr Mark Downs and Paramedic Howard Payne for the daily support they gave Tom.

 

OUR TOM IS BACK

 

By the end of the week Tom was smiling, chatting with everyone and back to his old self.  There is a still a long way to go but with positive thinking and more diving on the horizon he has much to look forward to.

 

TOM IS JUST ONE OF MANY

 

Sadly Tom is not an isolated case and we are supporting many other programme members who are suffering acute psychological trauma.

 

ONE VETERAN TAKING THEIR OWN LIFE IS ONE TOO MANY

 

We need more funds to deliver what we do. What we do works. Remember 97% of our income goes on delivering our programmes. No paid employees, no lease cars, no expensive business premises, just a team of volunteers changing the lives of our veterans.

 

A GREAT VIDEO

 

The video is of Tom Oates at Roots on the October Exped. Less than 25 dives in total look at the buoyancy and trim. Do you know many at the same level who dive like this.

 

THE FUTURE

 

And Tom long may it continue as you progress to your goal of being a marine biologist.

 

 

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Red Sea, Egypt • May 2017 - photo by :Kevin Kollyer

Red Sea, Egypt • May 2018 - photo by Dmitry Knyazev

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