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Shell Shock: The Play Telling One Man's Story Of Life With PTSD

The real-life story of soldier’s battle with PTSD after the Army has been brought to the stage at the Edinburgh Fringe.

The real-life story of a soldier’s battle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after the British Army has been brought to the stage at the Edinburgh Fringe.

'Shell Shock' is based on the novel by Neil Blower Watkins, who suffered from mental health problems after his time in the Royal Tank Regiment.

It tells the story of Tommy, a soldier who has just left the Army, and follows him as he leaves the forces and embarks on life as a civilian.

Forces News spoke to Tim Marriot, director and producer, about the realities behind the play:  

“The diary was written as part of Neil Blower Watkins' therapy, on his journey through PTSD and out the other side.

“It’s not a victim piece - he doesn’t see himself as a victim at all, he thinks he’s absolutely fine, it’s just the rest of the world that has a problem”.

The play is a one-man show and a brutal account of the way in which veterans struggle after leaving service.

For Tommy, he has difficulty getting a job and forging relationships, and soon realises that life on civvy street isn’t so straightforward.

“In the end the piece becomes a pathway for hope.

“We work with a number of military charities including Help for Heroes and Combat Stress.

“Help for Heroes are running a hidden wounds programme at the moment and we’re trying to encourage people to buy into that, and to seek the help if they need it, and to identify that they do need it.”  

Before it’s run at the Army at the Fringe in Edinburgh, 'Shell Shock' toured Army barracks and veterans’ societies across the country, aiming to highlight the symptoms of PTSD and let people know help is out there.

“To be able to do that, to be able to go to veteran’s centres, to be able to go to their territory and find those people is fantastic and I’m very grateful to the Army for allowing that to happen.”

The play aims to show those ex-servicemen and women that it is a struggle they can overcome if they get the right help.