Should you consider this….
Friday just past and the need arose to pay a visit to Urgent Care, hmm yep Friday night visit to a NHS facility, needs must.
I sit typing this with my loyal assistance dog (Ziggy) resting his head on me, reassuring me letting me know he is here for me. He is without doubt a lifesaver keeping me from the dark depths of suicide and supports me when I need him.
Jumping back to Friday, we all hear the stories that the NHS is at breaking point or in fact its already broken. I attend with my faithful assistance dog its early evening, calling ahead checking Ziggy can come with me. I walk in the seams are bursting the staff are visibly stressed. The noise the amount of people this is hell on earth.
Post Traumatic Stress (PTSD) doesn’t tell you at what point its going to affect you or how but without doubt this was going to trigger me off. I checked in no problems Ziggy was relaxed, I was told where to sit. I walked across various number of people sitting down some with three or four family members with them. I looked for a seat there were none, I looked around Ziggy in tow plenty of people looking and reading out loud I am working please ignore me.
I could allow my blood to boil for the inconsiderate behaviour of those turning a visit into a family outing, I stood in the only space available. Vulnerable is the best way I could describe this moment however Ziggy was there supporting me. Within 30 seconds he acted did what he is trained to do, i mouthed at me and guided me outside away from the busy waiting area.
There is more I could detail in this and as with anything in my mind I could babble on but I wont, I just want to say I am eternally grateful to those who supported me through this. Years ago I would not have batted an eye.
I have severe PTSD I acknowledge this I want to remind myself of this and realise that as I feel defeated I have come a long way I am here. I have a long way to go but I will not be defeated.
Is Rt Honourable Tobias Elwood MP right?
After the tragic events in Westminster where a loner took it upon himself to take the lives of innocent people going about their normal day.
The Government and the Police advice is to follow three simple steps
The sole purpose of this advice is to afford protection to you the public. Today during the inquest and quoted in various media sources Mr Ellwood saying
“But I find myself countering the advice somewhat because as we saw in the Manchester attack, London Bridge and Westminster as well the message gets through that no terrorist is going to win”
Mr Ellwood during this attack ‘Stepped Up’. He did this with the deep and terrible knowledge that with terrorism there is always a threat of a secondary attack. Doing what he could to save the life of PC Palmer he did not hesitate he refused to leave and refused to give up.
The current UK threat is such that we pretty much live in a society where a terror attack is ‘highly likely’ these are sad times but it has become the norm. Do the words of Mr Ellwood undermine the advice? In short NO.
I have very little doubt in my mind that although in a ideal world when fighting terror we would all stand up and show them that they will not win.
Tragically this is not practical, during a terror attack you will experience a number of natural instincts these are;
Until you are in this situation where your life is in danger or a significant event has occurred you wont know which of these it will be. I know what mine is and this comes as a result of significant hostile training and the ability through exposure to assess the dangers. This is however subject to change as this is the purest and oldest of human instincts and key to survival.
If a car is being driven at you, should you stand in the way? NO
If someone is armed with a weapon and you are unarmed untrained should you intervene? NO
If someone is going to blow themselves up….? the answer is NO
The locations of recent terror attacks have been in locations where the emergency service response has been minutes. It is there job to put their lives before yours yes that is their job, they then will have contingencies in place to manage the incident and protect and preserve life.
Now I have the utmost respect for Mr Elwood he reached the rank of Captain in the Royal Green Jackets, to get to this level you dont just turn up at the recruitment office and say
“ I want to be a Captain”
You have to work hard, train hard and learn fast. These skills are drilled into you so that in any given moment you are steadfast in adversity. When I joined The British Army the saying was;
“Be The Best”
I have no doubt I was and I am, as I am sure Mr Ellwood will be, with the standard caveat we are humans we make mistakes and we learn.
Although I have digressed slightly the facts remain I do not believe Mr Ellwood’s words should be interpreted in the direct literal sense. He does not expect you to stand in front of a terrorist and put your life at risk. If he does then this will be one of the mistakes he will learn from, to that end you should follow the advice above from Government.
Finally I wish to thank the Emergency Services, Mr Ellwood and the other members of the public in the numerous attacks that have happened over the years for doing your bit
What would you prefer?
Its accepted that some people like pain and some don’t, I know where I sit on this subject. The main thing that has led me to this blog and that is seeing the amount of dogs being pulled around and having pain used as a training tool.
Imagine this; you are walking down the street with your best friend, they are walking behind you, chatting away then all of a sudden grab the collar of your shirt an choke you. Why because they have decided to change direction and cross the road!
Now with that in mind switch it around you are walking your beloved best friend this time its a dog. You are walking along , decide to stop and change direction without warning you tug the lead. Now what has happened there is your crushed your beloved pets windpipe!
So looking at these two examples the source of the problem lies in the breakdown in communication, how do you resolve this?
The facts are you give your dog the choice, your bond will be significantly better. The list of does and don’ts that I use with Ziggy are here;
Use a Harness
Use treats (Choice)
Reward your dog for the right behaviours.
Don’t use a collar to check your dog, (pain)
Don’t chastise your dog because you think they got it wrong.
The techniques I use with Ziggy as a PTSD Assistance Dog is choice and reward. When walking and I want to change direction I simply communicate with him with simple clear commands. I use “This Way”. What this does is drawers his attention to me. Then the direction we want/ intend to go.
We started at a young age and using methods provided by Kirsten Dillion, to reward and give Ziggy the choice. Every time we walk and want to change direction I say “this way” and he follows, this is because when we trained we imprinted those words with a positive reward i.e. a treat.
When he didn’t do this we just stopped no tugging no dragging just no reward no movement, each time he heard “this way” and followed he was rewarded. Slowly I began removing and randomizing the reward this then trained him to decide what to do. This was then his choice no pain, he followed this option because there was a chance of a reward but crucially no pain.
So when it comes to you make the choice if you like pain but when it comes to your dog or any animal in fact give them the choice, yes influence it with training but never use pain. Ultimately this choice induces trust this is an essential part of the relationship. Ziggy is not a tool he is a partner a best friend and to do this trust is crucial and he must make the choice to participate and helping me is choice.
Does it work?
Transport For London (TFL) backed a campaign started by a customer it simply asked people to look up. The intention is to encourage to look up from their newspaper book or ultimately their electronic device.
This started as a result of a service user who suffered from chronic pain not being given a seat, you are not expected to know if someone needs a seat but by looking ups you can see the various badges that TFL provide that help indicate the person may need that seat.
I’ve spent many hours travelling on various modes of transport in and around the city, my illness is hidden, however I have an assistance dog called Ziggy, his jacket reads;
I AM WORKING PLEASE IGNORE ME
I accept that people will not have knowledge of what each of these amazing animals can do however its reasonable to assume that if you see a dog that says they are working, then its likely that dog is enabling the owner to do some of ‘normal’ things that others take for granted.
It happens when you have a dog the reactions vary from people trying to distract Ziggy on purpose to showing a genuine interest in him. The number of times I have got on public transport with Ziggy had had people rush forwards sometimes knocking and forcing their way past Ziggy to get on, mostly to get that much valued seat or space not under the tall persons armpit.
So do they look up ? Yes however not on one single occasion have I been offered a seat, I don’t always need one it depends on my condition on any given day.
In short the only way that these campaigns make a difference is if YOU as that person sat down looks up and offers your seat. In an ideal world there should be a chorus of harmony and
“WOULD YOU LIKE A SEAT”
Lets change this don’t just look up and hope someone else offers take the lead and offer yours.
It’s time to change.
It is by no accident that the title of this blog matches that of the announcement by Prince William of the new website http://www.mentalheallthatwork.org.uk .
Holding down employment full time, part time, contractor, zero hours or self employed all add to the inevitable stresses of life. its been a long time coming the need for mental health to be tackled head on.
Charities like Mind, the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) and Head Together have all been working hard to break the stigma and get the conversation started. I am without doubt the campaigns they have run have started the ball rolling.
It is clear that the ball sits firmly in our court now, yes our court not just your employer but us, you as colleagues. You’ll be surprised how simple acts can make the difference, we have all seen the signs and yes if you care about mental health you would have both acknowledged the flyers and spoken about it.
Its the small things that make a difference if you’ve got this far you will have realised that you have a responsibility to make the difference. Remember everyone is different so there is no hard and fast rule in the management of mental health be it yours or someone elses.
Consider some of these;
• Talk about your feelings
• Keep active
• Eat well
• Drink sensibly
• Keep in touch
• Ask for help
• Take a break
• Do something you’re good at
• Accept who you are
• Care about someone.