I am a husband, a father, a friend, a member of society. I have the same daily challenges as you but with one difference. I struggle to have random conversations with people so avoid them, I can be socially awkward, I am withdrawn so I don’t join in on social occasions. All of this leads people to think that I am weird or rude. To me it is just another day in the life of a PTS sufferer.
“Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental disorder that can develop after a person is exposed to a traumatic event, such as sexual assault, warfare, traffic collisions, or other threats on a person’s life.” Wikipedia
I prefer to call it an injury than a disorder because I believe, and so does the clever people, that it all stems from nine years as a police officer in South Africa.
Of my time served I spent about seven-an-a-half years in Durban Flying Squad, then one of the top uniformed units in the Durban area. I am not going to go into detail of the work but it is suffice to say that we worked hard to bring down crime and that meant criminals worked hard to remove us.
It was about two years ago when I started noticing a different pattern in my life. I was more irritable, struggled with excess weight and controlling my eating habits, I started having more nightmares and could be transported back to a scene in broad daylight whilst sitting in a meeting.
“I started noticing a different pattern in my life. I was more irritable, struggled with weight and I started having nightmares. It was very real and troubling”
It was very real and troubling. At first I didn’t say anything because I felt that most of my friends would either not understand or would want me to tell them more about my life in uniform, something I try to avoid nowadays. This continued for about a year.
I spoke to my wife as I thought she would understand. She was very supportive because she lived with me through the uniformed years and knew what I went through. We decided that I need to speak to someone, which was he next big step for me. I consulted my local GP who referred me to an NHS hospital for mental illness from an assessment.
In the mean time I started running for weight loss but quickly realised that the loss I was expecting wasn’t always there. What I did experience though is a type of happiness or euphoria after, and often during, a run.
I started to do some research and read about exercise and endorphins and its positive influence on people with mental health problems. The psychologist that did my assessment also confirmed that exercise is a very good way for me to manage my symptoms.
“Since my diagnosis in 2016 I have focused a lot more on using exercise to manage my symptoms. What I have achieved is a healthier life with no need for medication”
Since my official diagnosis in mid 2016 I have focused a lot more on using exercise to manage my symptoms. I do a fair bit of running and cycling and try to make the odd visit to the gym with my son.
I never shifted all the weight I wanted to get rid off but that is probably because eating is also still a coping mechanism for me and one that I try and deal with every day.
What I have achieved though is a healthier life with no need for medication. Yes, sometimes depression and doubt take control and I have to fight hard within myself to get through those days but I know, if I can strap on a pair of training shoes and go for a run I will start to feel better.
This year (2017) I decided to do something to help a mental health charity and as a result entered into a number of events to help raise money. Support in Mind Scotland is my chosen charity because they are local and do a lot of good work not just for those with PTSD but for all classifications of mental illness.
I still have three events left for the year. A cycle ride from Glasgow to Edinburgh, a half marathon and I will finish the year off with a 10k in Edinburgh.
- Marius is fundraising for Support in Mind Scotland. To support him visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/mariuspelser-ptsd