A former soldier is using his own diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to help others cope with how our lives will change when the latest COVID-19 lockdown is lifted.
“You don’t want to get overwhelmed. You might have all these great ideas and thought processes and a long list of things to get done. You’ve got the rest of your life to get them done.”
After serving 20 years in the British Army, former Royal Scots Dragoon Guards soldier Gareth Evans is now a trauma coach and hypnotherapist specialising in PTSD.
His own diagnosis prompted him to explore this condition and other anxiety and depression triggers in his work at ‘Remaster Your Mind’ - the aim of which is to help others free themselves “from the lingering effects of trauma”.
Following the government’s recent roadmap for easing lockdown restrictions in England, Gareth spoke to BFBS, the forces station broadcaster Joe Carden about why mental health should continue to be a priority as we face yet more big changes. He said:
“Rome wasn’t built in a day, but it can be destroyed in a day.
“Just be very aware of who you are and what’s going on for you.”
LISTEN: Gareth speaks to Joe about ways people can help reduce their anxiety
Gareth explains that many people do not know the difference between anxiety and depression.
Anxiety is a fear of the future and what will happen. This has been a common feeling among many people during the Coronavirus lockdowns. For example, many people have searched Google for answers to questions like “covid what will happen next?”, “covid 19 ptsd” and “covid money support”.
On the other hand, depression can be broken down into four different sections:
- The inner critic taking its lead
- The desire and need to have something which is no longer available to you
- Suppressing your emotions
To reinforce this idea Gareth references the so-called father of psychoanalysis, neurologist Sigmund Freud on his website:
“Unexpressed emotions will never die.
“They are buried alive and they will come forth later in uglier ways.”
He encourages people to actively seek help if they are feeling low or depressed, saying:
“Speak to a doctor, speak to a therapist, speak to DCMH, the Army Welfare Service of any one of these avenues that are free to soldiers and to civilians to a degree.”
The veteran turned trauma specialist and hypnotherapist has some helpful advice for anyone who knows someone they suspect is suffering from PTSD. He says the main thing to look out for is their change of behaviour. He said:
“You can understand that they’ve gone through something and they’re acting differently.
“I would implore you to ask how they’re doing, ask what’s going on for them and point them towards a professional because they’re going to be feeling something that they can’t understand and they’re going to find it very difficult to air it to anyone.”
In some cases, people with PTSD attempt to have control over one aspect of their life. If they cannot control the way their mind works, they find comfort in controlling something else.
Unfortunately, this behaviour can turn negative if they cannot have control. They can sometimes lash out in frustration but this is not the case with all people with PTSD.
PTSD Coping Skills
There is one very simple technique Gareth encourages people to try if they want to learn how to control their anxiety. It is all to do with focusing on your breathing and the environment around you.
First, you start by focusing on all your senses. Can you hear the wind blowing through the trees? Can you see the different colours around you? Once you are in that mindful state listen to your breathing. Gareth continues the advice by saying:
“You can use something called the box method.
“Breathing in for five to eight seconds, pausing for five to eight seconds, exhaling for five to eight seconds and then pausing for five to eight seconds.
“Repeating that process over and over again but still being very relaxed, being very in the moment and listening to yourself and what are you saying on a very deeper level.”
Using mindfulness techniques like this could help you feel more anchored to where you are and more capable of thinking clearly.
If you or someone you know has been affected by the issues covered in this article click here for links to charities that can provide you with expert help and advice.