Posts Tagged ‘depression’

So as another year ends and a fresh one begins I got to thinking about this Blog and decided to start sharing some pictures from my time away to break up the writing side of things.

Afghanistan is a huge part of my life and has been for the best part of a decade now, I have spent so long over there and also in Iraq that I feel more at home in these places than I do in my birth country. Despite all of the bad bad things that have happened while away, the good memories vastly out weigh the bad ones. It is hard to explain Afghanistan to someone that has not been there and actually stood among its people and breathed in its culture: the country is so full of history, life and rich in colour that it’s easy to loose yourself for a time and forget that it is a harsh country, that has been plagued by War for so long now that a lot of Afghani’s can’t even remember a way of life before the one that is now filled with violence and uncertainty. The place is a mixture of landscapes; from the mountains in the North to the Deserts in the South, the rolling plains, fertile farming lands and wooded valleys. You can immerse yourself in the history of a country that was once known as the Orient of the West and was a regular stopping point on the ‘Hippy Trail’, I have stood in the remains of fortifications built by the Khan’s, walked in the footsteps of my forefathers from the British Army, been privileged to have visited the Kings Tomb and have literally walked in History. The people are a hard, versatile people that have lived through the harshest of times, who have a deep rooted pride in the country, their culture and their ties to their ancestors. During times of trouble they are the hardest and most resilient of Warriors who will fight against all of the odds to the last man to protect what is theirs and their way of life, while on the other hand they can be the most hospitable, humblest people that will give you their last bit of food and the shirt of their backs should you need it.

In short I think what I am trying to say is that Afghanistan is a stunning, beautiful looking country with a rich history and an amazing vibrant people and culture which I am hoping that I will be able to portray to you in some photographs that have been taken over the years. Enjoy.

A ‘Tut-Tut’ on the outskirts of Kabul in 2003, a common vehicle to see as they are cheap and easy to maintain.

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Musaqala, Helmand Provence. The location of some of the fiercest fighting in the most recent conflict but also a place of stunning
scenery and the home to a huge bustling bazaar.

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This was taken in Helmand Provence where the Education system is almost non-existent and children are largely left to their own devices during the day while the fathers work and the mothers cook.

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A father protectively hold onto his child while listening to a local Governance speech about health care and Education.

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A British patrol being over taken by a local boy racer back in 2003. In the background you can see the remains of a British Fort that used to overlook the city of Kabul.

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A young lad taking a cheeky peak over the wall to see what goes on inside of a Forward Operating Base and also hoping to scrounge some chocolates from us on the inside.

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So that’s all for now but I will add more photo’s as time goes on and may even throw some shots of Iraq in as well. Enjoy everyone and Happy New Year.

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So it has been a while since I have been here to leave a Blog and during that time a lot has happened. Old friendships have been rekindled, a new job started, a couple of life’s realities faced and accepted and more importantly a ‘new’ me has immerged from my time out. There is too much to talk about in one session on here so I think for now that I am going to concentrate on what has led me to use ‘A Restoration Of Faith’ as the title of this entry.

My time in Afghanistan, although not continuous, spanned almost a decade of my life. During that time it became my life defining who I was and becoming an obsession that took over everything in my life. I lived and breathed it day and night whether I was there or back in the real world. I dreamed about the place and during waking hours could see it in my mind. Smells, noises, a word spoken or a song heard could take me back there in an instant. It wasn’t just me that became affected by this place and my experiences. My family and close friends became affected by it, albeit in a different kind of way, as over the years they saw the effect my time away and experiences had were affecting me as a person. Through highs and lows they watched me, supported me and most importantly I think – kept on loving me. During my highest moments when the darkness receded and I could think about better times, remember the good things that had come out of my time there, appreciate what I have and push the bad times to one side for a short period they were there laughing and enjoying life with me. During my other periods when I was so full of rage, hate, anger and sadness that all I could do was cause pain they were still there, stood beside me, supporting me and helping me find my way back into the light. Without the love of family and friends, someone’s comfy arm chair, some witty and ‘intellectual’ conversation, a very understanding couple who patiently and without complaint listened to me during the early hours of the morning when I was so lost that I thought there was no turning back and a wife who through everything stays with me and is often my voice of reason I have no idea where I would be now. But what I do know is that where I am is better than there. It’s not perfect, nothing ever is, and I have a long way to go still but I am at least now tabbing in the right direction and the road looks good from where I stand. 

You see, what I am getting at I think is this: I lost faith in myself and to an extent everything else in my life. I couldn’t see a way out and was almost consumed by what was happening to me. I knew what was going on or at the very least I had a good idea of what was happening to me and it scared me. In fact for a long time I was terrified. I didn’t have faith in my own ability to deal with what was happening to me or feel that I had the strength to fight the battle that was being fought inside my head. Only a few months back, less than that even, I thought I had lost the fight but due to the reasons that I mention above I seem to have gained faith in myself again and through that the strength to fight and hopefully win this battle. I am restoring myself and like all decent restorations it will take some time and a lot of patience. No doubt there will be some setbacks as no job like this is ever straight forward and to get ahead I will need to face a few demons, some from a life before the Army, and beat them or at least find a way to lock them in their cage. I am a determined man and can rise to a challenge. And a challenge this is.

It is worth pointing out before I sign off that writing also appears to be helping me. I seem to be able to express how I feel and talk about what is happening in my life a lot easier like this than I do through talking face to face with someone. So it doesn’t bother me if anyone is reading this or not as I think that it is just a case of me finding an outlet through here to ‘verbalise’ everything that is going on inside of me. I need this. But if you are reading then thank-you for taking an interest.

And that is it – the reason behind the title.

‘It’s a new dawn. It’s a new day. It’s a new life For me’

Nina Simone.

Red Mist. It’s my term for what comes over me when I loose control. It’s a state that I go into, often without any obvious reason or warning, where I become a different person. My very own ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ story.

It’s a part of me that I am deeply ashamed off and something that I wish with all of my heart that I could use a knife to cut out of my body. It’s almost destroyed my marriage and has at times left those that are the closest to me in fear for their own safety and terrified of my actions. As I write this I am doing so with swollen and damaged knuckles from a flurry of bone breaking punches that I unleashed on an unsuspecting wall in my home. The laptop that I am using is a replacement for the one that I threw across my bedroom while my wife cried in bed listening to my bellows and shouts of rage that had materialised from no-where. As I am typing my insides churn as my mind tries to come to terms with the idea of what I am and where my actions will eventually lead me to if carry on down this path.

More recently my bouts of rage have been broken up by bouts of crying and feelings of self loathing. Someone that has spent the past few months trying to help me through the mess that is inside of my head claims that the fact that I now cry is a good thing and that they would be more concerned if I wasn’t able to cry. The tears are my body and minds way of releasing something from inside of me in a way that will not cause any physical harm to myself or more importantly to anyone un-lucky enough to be in my vicinity when Mr Hyde shows his ugly head.

There is no easy way to explain what happens or the feelings that it produces. When the Mist takes over my body I am a prisoner within my own head. Something takes the part of me that is not hate full, angry, vengeful or violent and locks it away in a cage within my head for it to look out from behind the bars, un-able to do a thing, as the other part of me that is all of the above and more takes over. Inside of my mind this part of me is screaming for the monster that has been un-leashed to stop as it ply’s it’s trade of destruction and this part of me also cries as it listens and watches helplessly as the monster stands over my family, fists clenched and spittle flying while verbally abusing these beautiful women that have done nothing but show me love and understanding. Finally I just collapse to the floor of my cage waiting for it to all be over so that I can be released to pick up the pieces of my slowly disintegrating life. More often than not it is over as suddenly as it began.

I’ll come out of the darkness and back into the light exhausted and with feelings of guilt and shame that will stay with me for hours, days and sometimes I think forever. This is no way to live and yet there is no way to stop it – there is no knife than can cut deep enough to rid me of this other ‘me’. I’ve lost the trust of my wife and my daughters tip toe around me. There are only so many times someone can say sorry and tell you that they love you before these gestures become nothing but just meaningless words said to try and make up for the pain caused. I distance myself from friends and other family members – the monster that I have become doesn’t deserve their companionship and I am afraid of what will happen when I finally loose any control that I may have over it and it finally throws away the key to the cage that awaits me in my mind and takes over my life completely. A few months ago I thought that I had found a way out with the help of some really good people. I spent a few days with them and through them found, what I thought, was away to control myself and lock the monster away in that cage for good. They helped me find myself again and bought me back into the light. I felt alive for the first time in years and it was almost like been re-born. I told everyone that would listen what had happened and how things were going to be different. I had hope. And then without warning the Darkness found a chink in my armor and before I could stop it it came flooding back into me with such a force that I almost had a breakdown. And now I have no hope. Ahead of me all I see is darkness and pain. Even people who have helped me before coming to spend time with me have had no effect, my head is clouded and I am struggling to keep control. I put a smile on my face for people and tell them that I am fine, it was just a blip, all is good so as not to worry them. Inside though there is no smile, I am terrified and just want to gain control again but am not sure if I have the energy to do it anymore and am on the verge of losing this battle.

So now I am back at work, back in this shithole of a country that when I stop and think about it has a lot to do with how I have become and what is happening to me. I am not naive though, I have always had a quick temper and for the Darkness to control me as it does there must of been something of it there in me in the first place – it was just there waiting in the background for the perfect opportunity to grow and control and this place gave it that opportunity. The strange thing is that when I am in this place I can control it better. I have a handle on it. I think that is because I live and work in a violent place, somewhere that it’s acceptable to an extent to be that angry, aggressive man. I can channel all of my rage into something out here that is actually a asset as opposed to a hindrance. I feel safe out here. Over here there is some kind of hope for me. Not the kind of hope that I need but at least I can use that monster while here and also while here I am able to keep it away from those that I love and hold dearest to me. It’s not an answer but it is all that I have and that has got to be better than the alternative.

Before I left my home in the real world to start the long journey back to this home my daughters both hugged me and told me that they loved me. My wife told me that she didn’t want me to come back here, that this place was affecting my health, both physical and mental and that she wanted me home. She wants to help me to get better and to find that side of me that she remembers from so long ago. She wants me to be able to live. I don’t deserve their love but I have it and because of that I will stay here and do all that I can to control this and keep it away from them. It’s all that I can do.