Chris spent 15 years in the Royal Navy and during his career received the Queen’s Commendation for Bravery Conduct. However, after a traumatic experience, Chris left the Navy and struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Today he is working in a job he enjoys thanks to support from The Poppy Factory.
“I didn’t feel like I deserved it [the Queen’s Commendation for Bravery Conduct] as my act of bravery was overshadowed by an empty feeling. I was young and I had never seen a dead body before or even attended a funeral.
“I remember pulling dead bodies from the sea and the one that I left behind haunted me. After leaving the Navy, I started to wonder whether I had made the right decision, and although I did not know it at the time, I was suffering with PTSD.
Chris spent some time in Chicago and received mental health treatment there that left him feeling more vulnerable than before, so he decided to come back to the UK.
Getting support from The Poppy Factory
“I was lethargic and didn’t want to speak to anyone. Lots of things fade over time but traumatic events are as vivid as the day they happened. I had to accept that I had PTSD, look at it as a condition and make a conscious decision not to let it consume me. It is a daily challenge but it was important to ask for support.”
Chris was referred to the Veteran’s hospital and then introduced to Rachel from The Poppy Factory. That’s where his road to recovery started.
“Rachel provided the support that I had been missing. Together we were able to explore the things that I wanted to do. We looked for opportunities in areas that interested me and I was keen to experience life in a different way. Now I am in a job as a Quality Assurance Engineer at Siemens, based in London. I enjoy it and I feel like I am giving to society rather than taking.”
Asking for help
“It is a challenge for anyone to put their hand up and say they are struggling with mental health issues such as PTSD. It’s intimidating to declare but when people know then they can support you. The Poppy Factory are just a phone call away and it will be the best phone call you’ve made all year.”