The Total Release Experience® for the Military
Only a soldier knows what it is like to serve in a conflict. Like all those in the service sector, the rest of society depends on their bravery and stoicism. However, the soldiers that have returned from battle to the homeland can find themselves mentally/ physically scarred. The transition process back to civilian life can be challenging such that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder becomes a new battle.
Thousands of soldiers in the UK suffer PTSD, a severe anxiety disorder in which victims suffer experiencing the original trauma through nightmares or flashbacks. In addition, sleep difficulties and anger are synonymous with post-traumatic stress.
‘Many fear that admitting to experiencing symptoms of PTSD could harm their careers, cause them to have difficulties with their peers or superiors, or be a stigmatising admission of the inherent weakness of character. PTSD among the military is seen often as a failure, a weakness, an embarrassment, and evidence of an innate deficiency of the right stuff’ (Gupta, 2004).
PTSD also affects those closest to the sufferer. As a result, relationships break down, and the family unit suffers.
The programme is a perfect solution for soldiers. Dr David Berceli has taught many soldiers worldwide how to release their battle scars and start to live everyday life. TRE UK® now makes it available in the UK and is having great success helping serving soldiers and veterans recover from symptoms of PTSD where other therapies have failed to bring the release that can only come with a Total Release Experience®. As one veteran said to me, ‘A soldier can go to battle but should not have to Battle for his whole life.
The Tale of Two Toms
‘I had been a long-serving soldier and, since leaving the army, had continued to work as a private security contractor in one conflict zone or another. My story is typical, with a few close shaves here and there. I had lost some good friends along the way and had seen an unhealthy amount of human carnage. Also, I typically believed I had taken it all in my stride. I signed up for it, earned some good money along the way and led what many would consider being an interesting and varied life, so why should I complain?
But there was clearly a price to pay. In my case, recurring nightmares, heavy drinking, being highly irritable and perhaps the most damaging of all, I had a disturbing sense of guilt that hung over me like a dark cloud. I must stress this guilt was about nothing that I could specify. I had served with distinction in the military and had a sound reputation in civilian circles. I believed I had always operated morally and ethically and prided myself on being the protector, not the assassin.
Was I suffering from PTSD? I didn’t know, but as I pondered the question, I made a chance meeting with an old army buddy who had been officially diagnosed with it and had received counselling by the military. (He still had a severe drink problem and was going through a very acrimonious divorce, which obsessed him) He told me of the incident that he believed had caused his PTSD. It is not my intention to make comparisons here, as trauma is relative, but I had suffered numerous incidents of a similar nature, one of which resulted in being seriously injured.
Whatever was wrong with me, I felt I needed to resolve the issue, spurred on by the fact that I had broken up from another relationship, my drinking was getting out of hand, I couldn’t get motivated about work, and I could feel myself on a downward spiral. I had been in this dark place before, but I had always managed to keep it together and come out of it in the past. But this time, it was different, and I was conscious that I really needed to talk to someone and, moreover, needed some practical assistance. So I scoured the internet and found a number of organisations and options for those who have PTSD. However, my biggest concern was having to re-visit my experiences, some of which I didn’t feel I was at liberty to discuss with anyone.
Purely by chance, I came across TRE. There was something about its simple approach that resonated with me. No re-living events, no long term processes, no drugs, a simple process, and you get a tool for life. It all seemed too good to be true. I’m a bit of a sceptic and not a believer in ‘The Panacea’, but the idea that the body and mind heal themselves if allowed to has always been a concept I could relate to and something I’d had personal experience of.
Also, by chance, I had recently moved to an area where one of only two practitioners in the UK was delivering the program. Given the relatively small cost, I thought it would have been madness not to give it a try. So a little apprehensive, I turned up at my first session with Caroline Purvey, and I am so very glad that I did.
She is a no-nonsense sort of person and reminded me somehow of a kindly Sergeant Major I once served with. (Sorry, Caroline, I don’t have many female comparisons!) Perhaps I should clarify, whilst she is undoubtedly feminine, she is, to use a military term, Firm, Fair and Friendly. So translated – she was to the point, balanced in her view and kind, the key attributes of a good leader and someone who I immediately felt I could trust. Perhaps the most poignant comment she made was that the development of TRE had involved the study of animal behaviour. She mentioned a Zebra escaping from a Lion and how it would stand and shake once it realised it had survived to graze another day. By chance (and there seemed to be a lot of chance events at this time in my life), I had witnessed that very same thing, having just come back from a job in Africa. Suddenly TRE made a lot of sense.
Clearly, trembling has some purpose, and I also came to the realisation that to do so in my chosen profession was looked upon as a sign of weakness and to be avoided at all costs, particularly by leaders. But, however frightened one might be, ‘The stiff upper lip’ must be maintained, and we must soldier on! As a professional soldier, I also realise the importance of this ‘where the metal meets the meat’, but what works for us as soldiers does not mean it will work for us for the rest of our lives.
OK, what did the TRE do for me to cut to the chase? After the first session, I noticed an immediate improvement in my ability to carry out day to day tasks. Before, everything seemed like an uphill struggle. The simplest setback would often cause me to get extremely agitated. Not anymore. Midway through the programme, I began to look at people differently. Whilst I have never been a very tolerant person, now I could at least accept others ‘faults’ and move on without getting upset myself. I also found I was cutting away from negative influences around me, but with no remorse or bad feeling.
By the end of the course, I was a different person. The old Tom was gone, along with the heavy drinking, nightmares and above all, that pervasive feeling of guilt. I believe this sense of guilt was at the heart of the issue. Why the guilt? Who knows? Some may suggest it’s ‘Survivor’s Guilt’, although it may also stem from something in my childhood which, to say the least, was a very bumpy start in life,