Nicola Crooks, who served in the Royal Navy for five years, lives with complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD), which develops from exposure to multiple traumatic events.
She had been receiving treatment from the Veterans’ Complex Treatment Service, which is part of the St Andrew’s Healthcare Community Partnership Service, but hearing about Ukraine’s invasion has unsettled her.
The 51-year-old said: “The news of Ukraine is everywhere. It’s on every radio news bulletin and everywhere on the TV – you can’t get away from it and I’ve found it has triggered thoughts in my head, and has sent me back to places I never wanted to think of again.
“The therapy I’ve been having has saved my life and I am so grateful for it – but recent events have set me back a bit. You will always live with CPTSD but in my therapy I am learning how to navigate life and certain triggers in a better, manageable way, but at the moment it’s been overwhelming and increasingly difficult.”
Perry Devlin is a Clinical Liaison Nurse with the Veterans’ Complex Treatment Service and he says that Nicola is not alone with how she is feeling right now.
Perry said: “Although many of us will feel it is important keep up to date with the events happening in Ukraine right now, it’s important to recognise and be aware of the potential impact this may have on you if you served in the Armed Forces. It might be having an impact that you are not even aware of.
“It’s hardly surprising that seeing these upsetting images of war on our TV will affect those who have served. I recommend trying to avoid watching the news for a few days and acknowledge your feelings, even if the emotions are challenging. Have a chat about how you’re feeling with someone you trust and practice your self-care, making sure you put your wellbeing first, and if that means reaching out for some professional support then do it.”
The Complex Treatment Service is designed for veterans from the Midlands and East of England who have been assessed by the Veteran’s Mental Health Transition, Intervention and Liaison (TIL) Service and require a more intensive care and treatment approach.
The Service provides a range of intensive care and treatment for people with military-related complex mental health difficulties. Attendees are supported by a military-aware team who develop a personalised care plan.
Perry has issued the following advice for veterans who may be struggling right now:
For more information about St Andrew’s Community Partnerships, click here.