I attended a Practitioners Course early 2010 as there were no spaces on a Talking2minds Change Course. It was 7 intensive days and it absolutely blew my mind.

I am now in recovery from chronic PTSD due to this programme which is run by Talking2Minds.

I am continuing to use the knowledge I learnt on myself and on others, hoping to help run residential courses with Talking2Minds , in far west Cornwall and run surf camps using the healing therapy of the ocean.

In my opinion having been through just about every system, set up to treat Combat PTSD, in the country and by carrying out studies with US veterans in California, I can honestly say that Talking2Minds has what it takes. It ‘s run by the guys, for the guys, academically, physically, emotionally and spiritually, it does what it says on the tin!

I am now back to work full time and running a CIC company for veterans and their families. The course has totally changed my life around. My tears are now of joy in my life and happiness in my relationship too. Two days before attending this course I again found myself with a noose around my neck and then spent the night in the local police cells.

The following is a compare and contrast of my experiances with other therapies:

Combat Stress
I have visited Combat Stress on several occasions. It was purely by chance I came across them through the British Legion due to my partner ‘s desperate cry for help. My first visit to Combat Stress was in 2007.

Some observations I have made about Combat Stress are:

  • I found Combat Stress a good first point of call and have fond memories of being in a safe place again.
  • It took spending time in an informal setting with fellow PTSD sufferers that I realised that I also had PTSD and that I needed help.
  • Unfortunately out of my memories is of them telling me that I will not recover from PTSD. For a lot of my friends sadly this is the case and some have been attending for over 15 years now.
  • In my opinion Combat Stress is a respite from civilian life and the complications that ex-service personnel find in non-institutionalised environments.
  • Mindfulness, CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy), EMDR, (Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) Relaxation Classes and lots of cups of tea on top of more CBT are some of the therapies. CBT was designed in the 60 ‘s to stop bed wetting in young children and I ‘m not sure is relevant for PTSD. EMDR can have such an extreme effect because you are taken right back into the trauma that often leads to more flashbacks, nightmares and after effects for days. (I know this through personal experience).
  • Once going back into a service environment again where the rapport, banter and comfort zone is rekindled, like back in your unit, a major self-adjustment is made and it feels great. The problem lies when returning home after 2 weeks and back out on the street again so to speak, with no de-brief or help to re-adjust. This is the problem in the first place for all of our servicemen and women leaving the services. Every family member and partner I have spoken to dreads the post weeks of the guys Combat Stress visit. They usually come back angry again and straight back on the booze.

Conclusion: It ‘s a good half way house

The Warrior Programme
The Warrior Programme covered TimeLine Therapy, Huna therapy and meditation over the course of 4 days. I found out about it from reading an article in a Sunday supplement magazine and contacted them direct.
I attended The Warrior Programme in the early part of 2009.

Some observations drawn from this programme are:

  • Travelling from Penzance up to London was a big thing for me and quite stressful on public transport. I also needed to borrow money in order to get up to London (adding to my anxiety).
  • My personal experience was mixed. I found comfort in the Huna Therapy from Hawaii and the Ho ‘O pono pono Forgiveness technique seemed to work. I put this down to the fact that I ‘m a surfer and the ocean/Hawaiian/surfing thing connected within me. To receive you have to believe comes to mind and the fact that I wanted so much to end my cycle of PTSD for both me and my partner.
  • I observed on the programme that not everyone in the class were really into it, for whatever reason and I ‘m not going to guess. What I can say, as I befriended some of the other students was that:
    • The environment and classroom didn ‘t feel safe and relaxed for most and on the second day this was mentioned but nothing was done.
    • Hxxxx Lxxxxxx did not have a solid rapport with all the students and brushed certain issues aside i.e. the aforementioned concern. So the respect was not there for the persons taking the course. Consequently there was not trust either which seemed to me to be a vital part of this type of programme.
    • There were many different on-lookers coming in and out of the classroom each day. This was because the on-lookers were where the money was coming from, to see if the programme could be justified, to report back to other officials. This didn ‘t help create a safe, confidential and trusting environment.
    • On the last day one poor lad ran out through the double doors chased by staff down the street because a few top brass officers were scrutinising us. I must admit it felt like being in a goldfish bowl and not too keen on the officer type myself.
  • I included myself in the after class activities just like I did at Combat Stress. I feel like a sponge and want to learn more, learn everything, do everything, and get better. But it was a bit weird having to do Tai Chi (a martial art I learnt at 12) and Capoeira (Brazilian martial art). The instructor was cool, form Brazil and we spoke about surfing.

Conclusion: Things shifted for me because I wanted them to and I personally found a connection in the Huna therapy and Time Line  Therapy™ but NLP wasn’t covered. The shift only lasted a few months. There were several follow up sessions offered once a month but to travel 6 hours on the train to London for a 3 hour session which includes more Thai Chi couldn ‘t be justified in my mind both in terms of finances, time and stress. I came away with a large folder of information for me to continue with what I had learnt but this wasn ‘t always practical (because of the way I personally like to/need to learn).

PTSD Local support Group
The PTSD local support group is a monthly meet of local veterans held in Penance on the last Wednesday of every month. It is lead by Dxxx Fxxxx, Veteran ‘s Support Worker at Cornwall Partnership Trust and assisted by Cxxxx Sxxxxx I have been part of this group for about 18 months now and try and attend regularly.

Some observations I have made are:

  • The first half of the meeting is held for introductions, anything to mention about ourselves or a guest speaker. The other half of the session is based on a subject matter i.e., anger or anxiety and usually lead by Dxxx Fxxx.
  • This is a pilot scheme and new in the making and it ‘s positive that it ‘s actually happening, although at times it can be a negative whingeing session!
  • Having Dxxx as a therapist in the past and seeing what she is doing for the veteran ‘s leaves me with nothing but respect for her.
  • It could be improved in terms of assisting veterans in a practical way (i.e. signposting to the relevant organisations, benefits, jobs available etc)
  • I hope that other days and times might be available for groups to meet that is more user friendly and flexible. This would open it up to other guys and their families.

Conclusion: I hope this group carries on

NHS (Cornwall Foundation Partnership Trust) Having visited my GP I was initially referred to a counsellor about 5 – 6 years ago but it didn ‘t help me at all. We didn ‘t even discuss my military background or did he explain what PTSD was.

I was then referred to the local mental health team at Bolitho House Penzance a few years ago; I tried to get help for 1 year to 18 months with no joy from Bolitho House and then eventually got a letter to say I ‘d been discharged, without ever seeing anyone. This made me very angry especially as I started to find out that there were so many others in my situation.

I demanded to see someone after going in personally on a few occasions with a rope in a bag explaining the feelings of suicide.

I wrote a letter of complaint to the head of the local mental health team but received an inadequate response.

In conclusion the service that followed was inadequate and unprofessional and remains to be so. I am still under Bolitho house, and again finding myself waiting for a phone call for the last three weeks. The reason is to let them know in a meeting that I am in recovery but will be watching them closely and how veterans of our armed forces are being treated in Cornwall.

Thank you Bob for what you have done, and of course Mike too.

Look forward to seeing you all soon

Kind Regards
Rich Emerson.