Service User Stories
Seeking help for PTSD
Unbeknown to myself I had been living with a deadly condition for possibly years, a condition I had not even heard of, let alone able to spell correctly. This situation changed dramatically on the 9th September, 2009.
As a restorer of historic stained glass windows I was enjoying working at the Alms Houses at Sherborne Abbey.
Then, out of the blue it happened. The weakness in my grossly distorted aortic artery gave way and I was now internally bleeding to death. In the hours that followed I was blue lighted 30 miles, underwent open, life saving, surgery and placed in a coma.
During the long months of recuperation I grew stronger physically and was experiencing an overwhelming 'high on life' state of mind. Life really was for living.
Having always considered myself quite strong minded I believed I would overcome the troubling memories and images I was left with from the ordeal. Unfortunately these feelings were multiplying as time went on, sleeping patterns became disturbed, constant reliving the trauma, flashback images etc.
Still stubbornly believing I could beat these feelings 8 years went by.
The floodgates finally gave way when finding myself in a confined environment alongside an ambulance on an emergency call. Rooted to the spot, instantly sweating and realising my bladder was giving way I soon realised I needed help.
With encouragement from my wife and son I self referred myself to 'Steps to Well-being', my 10 weeks of talking therapy helped tremendously and feeling empowered I felt a new lease of life was on the cards. My previous 'triggers' were becoming a thing of the past with the exception of the most disturbing aspects of the trauma.
Steps to Wellbeing came to my rescue again, this time in the form of PTSD group meetings, at the end of these I was offered EMDR treatment. Having had good results previously I then threw myself into this fascinating form of treatment.
At the first session I felt comfortable with Ellie (my therapist) and with how the next sessions would unfold. I believed that I could safely relive the most troublesome and upsetting parts of my trauma whilst the eye movement took place. After each session I had a mild headache which, once home, would be followed by a deep sleep sometimes lasting many hours. After some 4/5 sessions I realised that my previous triggers were becoming a lot less disturbing and by the end I felt able to look these in the face without reaction.
Having felt a great debt to the NHS over the years when covid hit I saw an opportunity for repayment and produced the 'Kicking Corona' glass panel which is now on permanent display in the main entrance of Dorchester Hospital. The middle panel came from imagining the sights our nurses must have seen, hence the pixelated imagery. The Newtons Cradle nothing more than a thought which became a project. I have the latest and maybe last of these projects on the workbench now with the vaccine being the theme.
I've heard it said that sometimes the hardest thing is to seek help, I can relate to that, but I would encourage anybody with emotional distress to take that first step as there is a safe environment and there are highly skilled and compassionate people at Steps to Wellbeing who can help you live your life to the full again.
An additional reflection...
I think that the work I’ve completed during the lockdowns has been quiet reactionary to the situation we are all in. The latest piece is more looking forward to a time where we can once again be with family and friends, maybe even a little. ‘Dancing in the Street’.