Kayaking course makes a world of difference to ex-soldier living with PTSD

Thursday 29 September 2016

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) sufferer Brian Rollinson has spoken about how a Help for Heroes Recovery Centre Tedworth House in Wiltshire has made him feel accepted.

Brian served in the British Army Green Jackets in the 1980s, and after completing tours of Northern Ireland, said he never felt quite the same: “The tours were horrendous, I had physical injuries to my lower back after a mortar attack and my left leg was shot.”

However, it wasn’t the physical injuries that limited Brian’s life. He was diagnosed with anxiety and depression, but ‘always felt there was something more to it’ as he often had flashbacks that could leave him bed-bound for days at a time.

Brian Kayaking Course

After leaving the army, Brian lead a ‘normal, civilian life’ working in the engineering industry, but in 2013, went through a rough patch after the breakdown of a relationship and ended up temporarily living in his car. “They were my darkest days, and unfortunately memories that I had been repressing for years came to light.”

Brian was diagnosed with PTSD and began therapy, which was a slow process and he says it was hard to open up after 25 years of repressing memories.

Brian was given information about Help for Heroes and saw that there was a week’s kayaking course coming up.  He had been a keen sportsman back in his army days, even representing them in cross-country and so he decided that this would be a great way to he learn new skills and meet like-minded people.

“Back then, I could literally run away from my problems but after my physical injuries I couldn’t do that anymore, which made it even harder to cope so I wanted to fuel my adrenaline in a positive way.”

On the kayaking course Brian made some great friends and although he wasn’t keen on being submerged in the water at the start, was given the guidance and time to build his confidence and passed the course with flying colours.

“I’m now starting to find the old me. It’s great to see that side of me again. Sport has played a huge part in my recovery. Although my mobility is restricted, I’m able to take it easy with sports like cricket – I’m also now a part of the Help for Heroes Cricket Team and I wear my kit with pride. The H4H staff and volunteers have been so supportive and built up my confidence and self-esteem. I always look forward to visiting Tedworth House, everyone is so friendly and treated as an equal regardless of injury or illness.”

For many, recovery through sport provides a wide range of physical, psychological and social benefits and is often the first step in developing confidence at the start of a long road to recovery.

The social benefits for Brian shine through, he says: “All the kayaking course members are getting together next year and we are going to do a kayaking challenge to raise money for Help for Heroes. Watch this space…”

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