PTSD just four little letters

PTSD just four little letters
Photo by Susan Wilkinson / Unsplash

I have debated with myself so very much over the years about whether to make public the following thoughts,  I have written them down over the years as therapists have told me there is a benefit to writing in a journal. I first and foremost always have the need to protect those around me from what is in my head, even including those very same therapists, which is why it's taken so long to decide.

To the majority of people, PTSD is just four little letters and there isn't really any understanding of what lies behind those letters when they are uttered together in that order by somebody who battles it or lives with somebody who does. PTSD is caused by many different types of trauma and therefore each individual will react to those traumas in very different ways and handle situations in very different ways moving forward in life.

This is the Dale that people see on a daily basis, this is the medicated Dale with Leffe by his side and Colleen supporting him every minute of every day, this is the Dale who has perfected his mask over many, many years and uses it to protect those around him.

I deal with my traumas by using distraction and avoidance because no forms of therapy have worked for me and this does allow me some semblance of a life, not a normal life by any stretch of the imagination but better than the dark pit I would choose to live in otherwise.

Many people, because they see the face in the picture above may question what's actually wrong with him? He seems fine! He's laughing and joking....... Believe me when I say the most exhausting thing I do each day, apart from getting out of bed, is put on that fucking mask. Colleen will attest to that fact because she knows some of the details to follow but also lives with the 'other me' when I take off that mask. To be honest, it's for her that I decided to make public this post, because honest to God whatever I go through, I know it's ten times worse for her and the world needs to know what the people who live with those who have PTSD go through because they deserve every medal and reward available.

⚠ Trigger warning ⚠ please do not open this content box if you are easily upset.

Upsetting content below!

Child pornography, bestiality, rape, torture, horrible words which alone have the power to elicit visible winces on the faces of anybody who you speak them to, rightly so because they are the words used to describe some of the most heinous crimes which a human can carry out.

I never truly understood the power behind those words until September 2012 when I started the job I thought was my dream job Cyber Incident Response for the MoD, if it had been just that job my life would be very different today and "Cheeky Chappy" Dale would still be with us.

Over the next 6 years, I conducted a role that also meant I would have to analyse imagery that was extracted from criminal and inappropriate Web browsing sessions conducted by 'people' (I use other words to describe them now), on the MoD network.

Over those years I got a true insight into the human mind and the depraved lows it was capable of stooping to. I was witness to rape, child abuse, torture and animal abuse, I sat in a chair and I witnessed these crimes and looked deep into the eyes of those who suffered them. Over 1 million images, at least a quarter of those were criminal. I had no help to process these feelings or thoughts that haunted me long after the working day had ended. I did have the friendship of others who were around me then and still are today, as with all things in the military we used dark humour to get through some days, but that was nowhere near enough to prevent what was to come for me.

When you have seen the evil that humans can do to other humans it affects how you see the world around you and the thoughts that go through your head.

Now when I see or hear kids playing/shrieking I am transported to a place of darkness in one of the many images in my head and I am playing that over in my head like a really vivid film, I will eventually come back to reality sweating, shaking and close to collapse, sometimes tasting blood in my mouth as I have bitten my tongue or cheek. This is one of many reasons I tend not to leave my house, but if I have no other choice then I have to medicate with extra dosages to try and prevent the extreme reactions.

Even seeing adults walking with children can trigger very disturbing thoughts in my head and I no longer immediately think of parent and child, I'm looking at body language and trying to work out if the child wants to be with the adult or not, you can imagine that makes a simple walk with Leffe pretty exhausting some days.

Worse than that, the brain is one of the most fascinating and unknown entities on this planet and nobody truly knows what powers it holds, I can tell you one of the powers it has though. My brain has taken many of those images and it likes to turn them into movies, these movies will contain children who have morphed from the original abuse victims into my nephew or kids of friends and they are the movies my brain likes to play to me if I dare to have the audacity to sleep. My brain is a fascinating and unknown entity but my brain is also a massive twat and also my biggest enemy.

I'm not going to go into any more detail than I have, mainly because just writing this small glimpse into my thoughts has wiped me out emotionally and also because I don't want to harm anybody who has decided to read this part.

If this has affected you in any way please do reach out to somebody to talk to or even seek the advice of a counselling service or doctor.

‌My wife, Leffe, and a few close friends and family give me lots of reasons to keep battling forward and that's what I will continue to do, in my own way. I know that I can be exhausting to be around for long periods of time and Colleen continues to be the only human who has managed to do that, for which I will be eternally grateful! People who understand me know that I am extremely empathic and invest a great deal into people who have managed to stick with me over time, it may be tough to get through the many layers of protection I have thrown up over the years but if you ever manage it then you will never find a more loyal friend who will be there anytime when you are in need, day or night.

I still honestly to this day have no idea how I have managed to continue operating in the world of work, I think a lot of it is because of covid and the new ways of working that have resulted from it, truly it has opened up the world of work to so many with disabilities both physical and mental and for that, I am also grateful! I have no idea what the future holds for me because I take each hour as it comes and my one and only wish is that Colleen is with me every step of the way because I know I can deal with anything that life throws at me, with her by my side.

This is a very open and public way for me to tell you all how grateful I am for her, my life saver and my soulmate and she deserves so very much more than words of thanks, Thank you Colleen you are my reason for being x

If you reached the end of this then thank you too.