A Royal Navy veteran has opened up about her struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, following a frontline tour of Bosnia during the Balkan War.
Sue Stephenson-Martin, 48, has lived in Norwich with her wife and a menagerie of pets for the past 10 years.
But her peaceful lifestyle, which centres on spending time hunting down rare fungi in the countryside and working as a peer support worker for Mind charity, belies an agonising battle with past traumas, and an ongoing mission to let go of memories from active service.
The veteran spent five years in electronic warfare for the Royal Navy, and spent time ashore on an exchange tour of Bosnia during the Balkan War.
She said despite experiencing horrific events during service, she buried the trauma when she returned home, and tried to continue a normal life.
She said: “It only started seriously affecting me 20 years later, when things happened to bring those memories out of the filing cabinet.
“I started getting flashbacks and being taken back to places. I get anxious, shaky, agitated and hyper-vigilant when I am out.”
The 48-year-old was diagnosed with PTSD, and started receiving eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing, a form of therapy which involves making side-to-side eye movements, usually by following the movement of a therapist’s finger, while recalling the traumatic incident.
Mrs Stephenson-Martin said although therapy helped, the real difference came when she signed up to the gym.
Alongside exercise, the veteran said spending time in nature helps keep her mind on track, edp24 reports.