A friend of mine has a best friend, also named Mary. We are each known as "The Other Mary."
This Mary has a son; we'll call him Colin.
When he was eighteen Colin joined the army. He did really well in his training and his mother was so proud of him. He went out to Afghanistan.
In some ways Colin was one of the lucky ones: he came back alive. He came back physically unharmed. But he didn't come back the same.
Colin is quieter now; more withdrawn. He hates loud noises. He was out shopping the other day with Mary when a pallet slipped off a loading truck and fell with a crash. Mary looked round, as anyone might, and saw Colin flat on the ground beside her, his hands over his head. For Colin that loud crash was another bomb.
The family used to love November 5th and the firework displays. Last Bonfire Night Colin stayed at home with the dog. The dog hid under the sofa. Mary says she thinks Colin would have hidden there too, if only he could have fitted his muscled six foot three into that space.
And Colin has nightmares. Nearly every night he has nightmares. A boy of four can run to his mother, climb into bed with her and allow her to sooth the monsters away. A man of twenty-four cannot. And the monsters he fears are not imaginary, but real.
Colin has PTSD. He is, thank goodness, recovering. But he will never be the carefree boy he was, and he can never forget those images that haunt him.
Colin's experience is all too common. The MoD insists that the rate of PTSD, depression and suicide among the serving military and veterans is comparable to that in the general population, but the soldiers who suffer will disagree.
The UK does not keep records as does the US. In the US there are a reported 22 suicides per day among military veterans. Over here all we can say is, that in 2012 (the most recent figures I could find) more serving army personnel and veterans lost their lives to suicide than did in combat. That is a sobering statistic.
Why am I telling you this?
Well, if you have served in our armed forces, you will understand. And you may feel that we, the general public, cannot understand. You know that we Moodscopers experience depression, but it cannot be like yours.
And you are right. Which is why I ask you please, to consider writing for Moodscope. The most valuable service Moodscope provides is a community where you can know you are not alone.
No, you are not alone, but you may need to be the first military voice to speak in order that others may speak too.
Help us widen our reach, so we can serve and help everyone who suffers with depression, whatever the cause, whatever the circumstances.
A Moodscope member.