Depression

JONNY012697

Midshipman
I cant join the Royal Navy because I have a history of depression.
I have a history of depression because I was accused of rape, something I am innocent of. My fight for my innocence became a two year battle to convince all those around me that I was in fact innocent. This battle I am pleased to say I won but at a cost, my mental health. My fight was both mentally and physically exhausting with little or no resources to aid me other than 'I did not do anything or rape anyone'.
I went to my doctor because at one point during this battle for my innocence, because I felt tired and exhausted and just felt that I cant keep fighting anymore. My doctor prescribed me with anti-depressants because he could not find a councilor suited to my particular problem and waiting lists for counciling were too long.
I had decided to join the Royal Navy and have been made permanently medically unfit because of this history. The Royal Navy and the Ministry of Defence have decided that there is something wrong with me (a character defect) and I suffer from an illness which will never go away. This has been stated to me in several different ways from several people. This is something I have come to accept that maybe there is something wrong with me, maybe I shouldnt have reacted in the way I did.
I was handed an article by a friend called 'Stamping Out Stigma' and said I should read it (I have pasted it below).
It raises points that mental health issues including anxiety, depression and post traumatic stress are not character defects and there is nothing wrong with an individual and that mental health problems are short term and you can recover fully.
So
If had gone through my depressive episode in the military I would have been treated and carried on with my career but because I am a civilian I am being told that depression is such a serious matter I cannot join because there is something wrong with me and I cant cope with stress.
Why the difference?

STAMPING OUT STIGMA

Man behind the plan: Lt Col Tony Rock is leading the Army campaign to tackle the stigma of mental health

MATTERS of the mind are not an easy topic of conversation for soldiers, admits Lt Col Tony Rock – the man charged with leading the Army’s first ever campaign to tackle the stigma of mental health.
But the officer insists it is a taboo that troops must tackle.
“We suspect that a lot of personnel who need help don’t come forward,” he told Soldier.
“There’s no difference between the level of mental illness in the Army and that of the general population, but soldiers are much more reluctant to discuss it. They see it as a fault in their own make-up.”
Lt Col Rock explained that failing to seek assistance could have difficult consequences.
“Someone might turn to excessive drinking or violence, particularly in a family environment. They may also become less responsive at work,” he said.
The health promotion campaign, entitled Don’t Bottle it Up, runs until September and will include television, radio and magazine publicity.
It is rooted in various research – most notably a mental welfare survey of personnel deployed on Op Herrick 11, in which more than 60 per cent of respondents reported barriers that would stop them seeking help for conditions like post traumatic stress, depression or anxiety.
“People need to start thinking of mental health problems as an illness, not a character defect,” Lt Col Rock added.
“And talking is demonstrating that you have the strength to deal with stress.”
This opinion was echoed by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg earlier in the year.
Announcing a new Government strategy to improve the UK’s access to psychological therapies, the Liberal Democrat leader said: “Mental health needs to be addressed with the same urgency as physical health.
“We need to end the stigma attached to mental illness, to set an example by talking about the issue openly and candidly and ensure everyone can access the support and information they need.”
Lt Col Rock explained that the chain of command is now far more aware of the impact of these conditions on personnel.
“Speaking up won’t affect your career in the longer term unless there’s a major problem and for most people it won’t be that; it will be a short-term illness,” he said.
One initiative already tackling stigma is Trauma Risk Management (TRiM), which sees soldiers trained to recognise peers who may need psychological support.
Maj Mark Kingston, officer commanding the TRiM training cell, said a total of 5,122 Forces personnel had been educated in the last three years – mostly from the Army.
“TRiM has its part to play in reducing stigma because it sees people being helped by their friends,” the officer added.
“It’s that ‘coming out’ part that many struggle with when it comes to mental health.
“But the earlier you raise a problem the easier and quicker it can be resolved.”
Andrew Cameron, chief executive of veterans’ mental health charity Combat Stress, praised the Army’s campaign.
He said: “Every day we see first-hand the damage done to our people and their families because veterans did not seek help sooner. Our advice is don’t bottle it up – get help.”
 

MG Maniac

War Hero
You are right ... had you suffered from depression in the forces you would have been treated ... however depending on he severity you may well have also found yourself made permenantly unfit for navel service as well.

The issue is not about what you have/had (mental health condition) but how that condition may affect you in the future when placed in a stressful situation e.g under fire from hostile forces etc. At the end of the day your oppo next to you needs to know that you have his back just as he will have yours but if you cant deal with stress adequately and effectively then he's as good as on his own and when the bullets are flying you need someone to have your back. Ok it depends on how you deal with the stress ... alcohol, violence, crawling in a corner etc etc ... everyone is different. The problem comes is that there is no known guarentee as to how you would react until its too late hence the reluctance to take you on.
 

JONNY012697

Midshipman
I can accept that and agree to a certain extent, you only know your own limitations when the proverbial hits the fan.
You raise the point of how the condition will affect me in the future, a good question assuming once you have depression you always will have depression and it is a medical condition not an illness.
The point the campaign makes is that depression is not a condition or a character defect it is an illness and a temporary one and help is there and your career will not be affected by seeking help. Though I now have to accept according to the Ministry of Defence that I have a condition that leaves me unfit to serve and I have a character defect that I cant cope with stress.
I do not have a condition I had an illness, I had this illness because I refused to accept the label of being a rapist (mainly because I was innocent and im not a rapist)
I sought help something the MInistry of Defence is now asking its personnel to do, as the article states that talking and asking for help shows you have the strength to deal with stress.
 

chieftiff

War Hero
Moderator
Don't beat yourself up over it as that just won't help, you have to move on taking up the next challenge and adventure but more importantly focusing on the here and now not what might have been if some small aspect of your life had only been different or you had approached something from a different angle. There are hundreds of medical reasons why people are denied entry every day yours is just a label (one painted with an unfortunately broad brush that is not well understood throughout society and as you've discovered particularly poorly in the military), it is however something that you can move on from though and it could be much worse, as you rightly say this is only a temporary illness.

I'm not a a councelor or a recruiter but I've lived a bit, moaning about something you cannot change seems to me to be focusing your energy in the wrong place, have a read of this, think about it and move on, good luck.
 

JONNY012697

Midshipman
Funnily enough I dont see me having suffered depression as a problem, you move on and learn from your experiences never let your past dictate your future.
What I do believe is the Ministry of Defence have finally hammered home the final nail in the coffin the girl who accused me of rape began to build and couldnt finish the job. In my view the Ministry of Defence have punished me despite being innocent of rape by denying me a career based on an accusation, based on a lie.
Before I was accused I had passed my medical and was all set to join only having to pick a new job as I had failed the selection course for aircraft controller, which was disappointing but its not the only job in the Navy. I had decided to discontinue my application while I fought against this accusation because I didnt want to just run away from my problems.
 

JONNY012697

Midshipman
To Soleil
Now or during my time of being accused of rape?
Now I dont need help from a GP or councillor because there is nothing wrong with me. I just believe this decision was made in poor taste and is inaccurate.
At the time, I found the more I fought the harder it got. The more I protested my innocence the more guilty people thought I was.
I got to a level that I just havent got anything left to physically fight with and facing the idea of whether I like it or not people are always going to think im a rapist. I went to my doctor saying I dont know what to do anymore, I dont know how to fight it. Thats what made me ill my mind going into overdrive on how to fight it and not coming up with any solutions because there arent any.
 
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A

angrydoc

Guest
Jonny, I am sorry your application has been unsuccessful.

You have obviously been through a traumatic event and, despite what you have said, I believe it continues to affect you. I think your use of the word 'stigma' is interesting - I do not think you have been stigmatised any more than someone with asthma or bad eczema - in that you have a medical condition. You are in a large group of people who have been badly affected by circumstances beyond their control - be that the death of a relative, an accident or whatever. Statistically if such an episode lasts longer than a couple of months there is a high chance of longer term problems and we would be failing in our duty of care to you to place you in a situation where you would be under undue pressure.

If you had developed depression whilst in the Forces it is unlikely that you would have been retained - our "medical margin" of people with chronic illnesses is ever shrinking as they are discharged.

I think you have the fortitude to go on to other things and I wish you well in whatever you choose to do.
 
I served in the mob for 10 years, after leaving I went through other life experiences that ended up with me suffering from clinical depression, I have suffered from this for 20 years, I have no doubt that had I suffered whilst serving in the RN I would have been medically discharged. That being said I very much doubt the condition would have manifest itself had I remained a serviceman. It is only recently that the "stigma" of depression has dwindled. I have gone for job interviews and some employers are happy as long as the condition is managed and under control. As far as stress is concerned, there are numerous situations that can cause stress in an individual. I have served as a lifeboat crewman for 12 years and been in situations I would consider stressful but not in a way that would effect me (now if it involved my ex wife that would be a different matter !!) The RNLI actually made me shore crew for 12 months when they found out I was on medication for the condition, then they re-instated me back to boat crew no reason given, it transpired it was because the "new" RNLI Medical Advisor's opinion was different to his predecessor !

At the end of the day you just have to keep going and at some point it will all turn out right.

Angrydoc's comments very valid
 

JONNY012697

Midshipman
AngryDoc
I know you are a Doctor and have far more medical knowledge than I have and I dont wish to get into a medical argument, but the use of the word 'stigma' isnt of my making it was used by an Army Officer who has the job of making the military and mainly the Army understand that mental illness is not something to be ashamed of and in his words that mental illness is not a character defect or a debilitating chronic illness.
I do not have a chronic illness or condition as in it will not go away, if I had I would have constant referrals to my GP to check my condition and would remain on some sort of medication, counselling or at worst in a mental health ward in a hospital.
As for my 'traumatic event' continuing to affect me, nothing could be further from the truth, I fought too hard to let it keep affecting me and like I say it took huge levels of strength both mentally and physically to overcome, succeed and be treated like a human being again. To put my battle into a naval context, I took on an armada of warships with a rubber dinghy and guess what the rubber dinghy came out on top. I overcame something that should never have happened in the first place but life moves on.
I have never been so insulted in my life which includes being accused of rape than when I was told by my medical examiner that I was weak after she sat there and listened to everything ive been through and how I overcame it.
I am not clinically depressed as in I do not have a biological disorder which affects my brain. As my medical records would state clinical depression. All I did was react badly to a situation I had no control over and normal coping mechanisms were null and void as I had no one for support.
Im not weak you have said as much when you say I have the fortitude to go on to other things (if I was clinically depressed this statement would not be true). I reacted badly to a bad situation nothing more nothing less.
 
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(granny)

RIP
Book Reviewer
You've had a tough time, you got through it and have come out the other side a better person maybe. You have now put your case as a reminder to others that life can be unfair. Life is like that. Now you must proceed with the rest of your life. The RN is not the only challenge that you can take up. Good luck.
 

grippy_gecko

Midshipman
Its a shame there isnt a sort of Peak Flow diary type thing for mental health, so that people who have suffered a mental illness and got well again can "prove" they are up to the challenge of naval training and service. There are people who had asthma or got a diagnosis of it as youngsters and are now fully fit and have no asthma, and they can prove they are not asthmatic. How can a person who had a mental illness prove they had an illness and its not a condition?

I can't help feeling that some of the people the Navy is turning down due to having had a mental illness (1 in 4 people at some point in their life do), are better candidates than some of the untested, unproven young things with a clean health record and no life experience.
 

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