A UK Veteran’s Story: Nemo’s Therapy with PTSD Resolution
When the forces’ veteran came to see me for the first therapy session, he was so nervous, he sat down and took a pack of playing cards out of his pocket and sat shuffling and fanning them throughout that first session, never once giving me eye contact. Nemo reported his life was a mess with so many awful things currently happening that he just could not cope with it anymore. Most of his days were spent in bed trying to sleep and block the world out.
He reported that the first session was monumental and for the first time in his life he understood himself. We progressed through therapy and Nemo now has structure and purpose in his life, he is now going out and about on his bike, has joined several groups and has a girlfriend.
On the second to last session, he brought in some things he had made himself out of wood. One item was a beautiful wooden box. The box measures approx 10cm by 10cm, ideal for a desk tidy, very practical, very functional.
He explained why he wanted to make this for me. In his own words:
“The box itself represents everything we have done together in therapy and my journey through therapy from the start to where I am now.”
Putting the Pieces Back Together
“I made the box out of odd pieces of wood which I glued together because when I first contacted PTSD Resolution, I was broken and I was in pieces. But when I first came to see you, Beth, you took each fragmented piece of me and showed me how to put the pieces back together again. How to make sense of the pieces, how I could join those parts of me back up together again so that I could function again. Although I still have a way to go yet, I feel I am back together again and in good order.
“The Box itself represents the boxes in my mind. I learned how to put all of that stuff that was rolling around inside my head into categories and by creating boxes in my mind I could compartmentalise my worries, anxieties and stress and all the rest and put each of it into separate boxes inside my head. When I do this, the negative things do not leak out and blend with and spoil the good things in my life. I couldn’t fully see the good things before.
And then I realised, everyone must have boxes inside their minds.
“I deliberately left the wooden pieces uneven because I am not perfect. You showed me there is a perfectly logical reason why I think and do things differently from other people. I simply use a different operating system than other people, Windows or Mac. But that doesn’t mean I am bad or no good, I have good qualities too. I am intelligent, kind, and hard-working etc. but it does explain all of those difficult things that happened in my past. All my life I have tried to mould myself to fit in with others, to be like them. But now I understand I don’t have to do that anymore. I am not perfect, but neither is anyone else.
Living with Trauma
“I have left the gaps in between the layers of the wood because the gaps remind me of the many trauma’s I have experienced in my life but you showed me how to live with them and it is these trauma’s that make me who I am today. And I can now feel proud of that.
“I used beeswax to polish the wood (not varnish) because beeswax gives a perfect smoothness and soft glow. It is the smoothness and that shine that shows me how special I am, that I have superpowers, I have never understood, as I was described as odd and different. Through learning who I am, I have learned to live with trauma. Despite having imperfections we all have the ability to cope with our traumatic experiences. Despite everyone having imperfections, it is this that gives them their own smoothness, beauty and power to cope with trauma.
“The box itself has a practical use. As I was making it I put all of the new learning, the new insights, the tools and the grounding techniques that you taught me, all of the stories and the metaphors you told me, everything went into the box.
“Your box is not empty Beth, it holds the whole journey that you and I have made together. Beth has started me on a journey and I will always carry a box with me on that journey. Not just for practical purposes, but also as a reminder of who I am and that I will always have the tools to take the next step. Beth and PTSD Resolution have not only helped me start to heal the trauma but have helped me develop and recognise that I have all I need to thrive in the future.”
Help for Forces’ Veterans
PTSD Resolution resolves the symptoms of trauma for Forces’ Veterans, Reservists and families in 8 out of 10 cases, with 3,000 referrals to date. Therapy is free, local, prompt and effective, through a network of 200 UK therapists. This is the only charity to treat Veterans with addiction issues and those in prison. All funds are used for treatment and research. PTSD Resolution pays no salaries and owns no assets - not so much as a stapler - to enable it to pay for therapy.”
For information contact www.PTSDresolution.org