Grayham is a 47-year-old veteran who served with the Royal Marines between 1985 and 1992.  He lives in Essex and has worked for the emergency services for the last 20 years. 

In 2016, The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity donated £30,000 to Combat Stress and £60,000 in 2015. Here is Grayham's story on how his life has been changed by their continued support.

Grayham's Story

“I used to think I was going mad. I had terrible nightmares as well as flashbacks. I knew I was getting uptight, angry and tearful about things for no good reason. I didn’t understand what was happening to me.  

 “My relationships suffered, I was difficult to live with and isolated myself from friends and family. I also used to put myself into risky situations. In my line of work I often faced difficult situations but rather than wait for the police, I’d step in.  

 

“The crunch point came when I nearly punched someone who was drunk in a hospital ward - I was furious about how he was behaving. I realised then that my behaviour was totally inappropriate. I knew I needed help or I was going to end up in prison. I was really depressed and thought of taking my own life.   

 “At work, I asked for help and the doctor I saw suggested I contact Combat Stress. It took me three weeks to phone the Helpline – I cried every time I picked up the phone. Eventually I left a tearful message. It was really hard to do because I knew I would have to start saying things that had been buried for years.

 “When I came to Tyrwhitt House for my first outpatient appointment, I was crying and shaking.  But the psychiatrist I saw reassured me that he could help me and that it would be OK. I was diagnosed with PTSD and depression. Since then I’ve attended two residential treatment programmes, including the six week PTSD Intensive Treatment Programme. 

 “Now I don’t sit there thinking I’m going mad – my brain is so much quieter. I understand what’s going on and know how to cope by putting into practice all the things I learnt at Combat Stress.

 

“Things are so much better. I’m looking after myself and my home and I’m no longer avoiding the world. I’m so much calmer and I’ve got my self-control back. I used to put myself in some really dangerous situations but now I can recognise risky behaviour before I do it.   

 “Looking back, it has been the many different dangerous incidents that I have been involved with during my life, including my service in Northern Ireland, that caused my PTSD. I’ve been angry about many different things for many years but I tried to bury it all inside. I just carried on and hoped that time would make things better. However hiding it all just takes its toll, it wears you out and affects every area of your life.

 “I didn’t use to be able to sleep so I used to use fitness to make myself tired – working out so hard that eventually I would just collapse and sleep. Now I’ve trained my brain to use mindfulness instead. I’m able to sleep now for at least four hours at a time. 

 “No one should feel embarrassed about having PTSD – for me it’s a sign that you’ve got stuck in, done outstanding things and as a consequence have developed a mental health problem. I didn’t used to be able to talk to my friends but now they all know what’s happened to me.” 

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