Mustn’t Grumble!

Sir Terry WoganThis morning I was listening to BBC radio 2 when I heard the sad news about the passing of Sir Terry Wogan. Like so many others, Wogan was a constituent part of my daily life for many years.

Sad as the news undoubtedly was, not least for his family and close friends, I was also quickly (and thankfully) reminded of the fact: life rumbles on – until it doesn’t.

That was something that Sir Terry often flippantly but always eloquently and amusingly, regularly reminded us of.

Apart from being saddened at the passing of a great (but humble) man, I also see the loss of another member of an important generation. It was the last generation to have lived through WWII, or have been impacted closely by those times, by true poverty and the aftermath of war.

I’ve always found that, despite the ‘normal’ youthful/dotage generational differences and expectations, there is/was a clear bond between people born in the thirty year period between 1930 and 1960. It is well documented academically that; most of our now common place and predominant social viewpoints, along with escalating mostly materialistic personal expectations, were born in the 1960s, developed in the 1970s and sadly, exploded in the 1980s.

Terry Wogan always exemplified the joy to be gained from interaction with others but even more importantly, how we should also care for our fellow human beings.

“When you tell me how important I have been in your lives it’s very moving. You have been every bit as important in mine.” (Sir Terry Wogan)

Terry was part of an ever decreasing section of our society who in general, had that great ability to look at life and say “Mustn’t Grumble” – I’m thankful that I also posses that skill.

”We were brightened by his wonderful personality and charm as he woke us up every weekday morning, becoming an essential and much-loved part of our lives… We will miss him enormously and our thoughts at this very sad time…” (Bob Shennan – Controller BBC Radio 2)

As part of the TOGs generation, Terry’s predominent ethos for life has served me well during my usually pleasurable stroll through this sometimes difficult life!

Sir Michael Terence “Terry” Wogan KBE DL (3 August 1938 – 31 January 2016) – BBC Obituary – Sir Terry Wogan

The #PTSD and Alcohol Series (Part 3)

PTSD Word MapFollowing on from earlier posts on the correlation between PTSD and alcohol consumption, the comments around – “Why Don’t more Firefighters have PTSD?” and my 2nd post on the subject – PTSD and Alcohol Part 2 – I’d like to continue on the subject.

During my continuing research, I recently found a piece entitled – Do The 12 steps Help with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? This first part of a (so far) two part article extols the benefits of participation in a group therapy process.

…patients with substance use disorders and PTSD who received focused treatment for PTSD immediately following treatment for the substance use disorder, along with participation in a twelve-step program during the first year of treatment, were more likely to experience long-term (five-year) remission from the substance use disorder…(Inside The Alcoholic Brain)

Many pieces of research have reflected the general views of practicing recovery professionals (myself included) in that; significant co-morbidity rates between PTSD and addictions exist. In 2001 it was estimated that – the rate of substance abuse among persons with PTSD was as high as 60-80%.

The case above, values the ’12 Steps’ process (as I do) but it fails to highlight the availability of others methods such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) and ‘Mindfulness’ (which I also value). All of which are probably just as relevant in effective treatment regimes. I suspect that the prominence of ’12 Steps’ in the research is simply born out of the fact; it is probably the most prevalent/popular technique currently utilised in addiction therapy in the USA.

Whether or not excessive alcohol consumption can be a cause (or result of PTSD), or vice versa, I’m still open to persuasion. I remain convinced there is indeed a definite correlation between PTSD and Alcohol Abuse however the ‘Chicken and Egg’ conundrum is still of great interest to me.

With all the above in mind; surely parallel treatment of both conditions must be a key to resolving these disorders, when they exist together?

The #PTSD and Alcohol Series (Part 2)

PTSD Word MapFollowing on from my earlier post on the correlation between PTSD and alcohol consumption (or not as the case may be), I came across a post entitled – “Why Don’t more Firefighters have PTSD?” courtesy of Station Pride in the USA.

I found it interesting due to the simple fact; you would naturally expect that levels of PTSD should also have some correlation with the type of work being performed by sufferers.

It should also be safe to assume that; the greater the levels and degrees of trauma experienced/witnessed that any occupation is exposed to, the higher the probability of workers being susceptible to PTSD.

(USA statistics) …The most consistent, predicted number out there says that about 37% of firefighters show signs or symptoms of PTSD… (Station Pride)

Making a simplistic (but unscientific) assumption; all firefighters deal with the same traumatic incidents, so why do only 37% of the profession fall foul of PTSD? To follow on from this, it should also be safe to assume that all emergency services personnel will, by necessity of their work, have greater exposure to trauma than ‘ordinary’ members of the public. And last but by no means least; our military serving in war zones (and areas of disaster relief) will experience more trauma than those who remain at home.

Something worthy of note, but not often included in examinations of this topic (that I’ve seen) is; what levels of Post Incident Psychological Debriefing/Counselling was available for the workers after being exposed to trauma? Indeed, if it was actually available at the time, how many chose to accept it? It should also be noted however; this type of psychological support is also something of a latter-day phenomenon in the workplace.

But in real terms, there has always been a level of post-incident (less formal) psychological self-support available within the military and emergency services. It’s something I have alluded to in the past (here) and something referred to in the firefighter’s post – the ‘work family’ chew stuff about and get things off their chest. But then again, only of possible use to those who chose to discusses their feelings and observations

If you were to experience an incident and then immediately return home to your family, it would make it harder to process it fully and effectively because they didn’t live the incident with you… (Station Pride)

I said “possible” benefit because, then like now, not all people want (or feel the need) to talk through their feelings or experiences, irrespective of the perceived/promoted advantages by their employers.

Again I’m left with a few more questions than answers… Why do some military/emergency services personnel suffer from PTSD when others don’t? Could it be that some ‘hide’ their PTSD better than others (but still suffer)…for reasons of pride/machismo?

Bearing in mind the above professions also (traditionally) have a heavier than ‘normal’ propensity for engagement in a ‘drinking culture’ attached to their work; does the prevalence (or lack of) PTSD have any connection with their personal drinking?

(To be continued)

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