I have been reading various books written by ex military about their time in conflicts and it has been a real eye opener.
I have read On Afghanistan’s Plains, Fighting Scared, Fire Strike 7/9, Painting The Sand and loads more from The Falklands, Vietnam, Northern Ireland, Iraq & Afghanistan and the latest has been Bravo Two Zero and yes I am very late to the party with this book.
Most of us know the story of Bravo Two Zero and their capture and torture in Iraq and I have to say it was the hardest read out of all of these books!
Now I don’t mean that as literally hard to read, but hard because most of the book is about author Andy McNab’s brutal treatment in the hands of the Iraqis, it is very descriptive and I don’t know how someone survives that treatment?
The brutal treatment was shocking and the beatings he took would likely kill most people!
So why have I named this post Bravo Two Zero, what can I learn from this book?
If you have read my blogs or social media posts, you will know that I suffer from chronic pain, I have been in some degree of pain for 20 years but the last 10 it has really ramped up and I am disabled and 90% housebound.
I also have suffered from mental health issues since very late 80’s and had a complete wobble in 1999 and only a few years ago I was diagnosed with PTSD. Way back when it first started, I didn’t tell anyone how I was feeling, to be honest I don’t think I knew what was happening and in a bid to out run the problems, I committed career suicide by leaving my job and going into training with local authority fire service and I was never going to survive it. The training at RAF Manston had been hard, mentally and physically and I was strong physically and mentally then.
So I am a bit of a mess!
I did struggle reading some of these books, I almost felt guilty for having PTSD and yet I hadn’t gone through anything like these people had, I felt ashamed to say I had PTSD because many of these people survived war and were mentally okay.
Of course I know that is silly, many people have PTSD that is triggered from a wide range of events.
But Bravo Two Zero flicked a switch in my head, in the Book the author Andy McNab says
They can break any bone in your body that they choose, but it is up to you whether or not they break your mindAndy McNab Bravo Two Zero
Now thankfully nobody is giving me a good beating, but still everyday I wake up feeling like that is exactly what has happened!
The docs aren’t 100% sure but something has gone wrong with my central nervous system and the way my body interprets the signals from my nerves. A cold shudder is felt as pain when it goes into my lower half, I get sensations of sharp cuts, pins being pushed into my legs along with joint pain, pain from atrophy and yet I am just sat there and nothing is physically happening.
I have struggled with the non stop daily high pain levels and how my life is now and then I read this and
Yep a light bulb moment!
Now I am not saying that I have just rolled over and allowed myself to be defeated by my circumstances, I have tried to keep strong but the truth is that I haven’t been strong, I was already struggling mentally and so dealing with a loss of mobility and chronic pain over a prolonged period meant I got worse.
But I read that line in Bravo Two Zero a few times and I sat there thinking about it. I don’t know why it resonated with me but it did and it has somehow boosted me in my fight!
I also found this valuable.
We stopped every hour to rest for five minutes, which is the patrolling SOP. If you go on and on, all you do is run yourself down and you’ll end up not being able to achieve what you sent out to doAndy McNab Bravo Two Zero
I am bad at pacing, if I have a task that I want to get done I go for it and keep going despite the fact that I know I am struggling and do so to a point where it has a massive knock on effect.
This could be something like weeding a border in the garden, I don’t tackle it in sections. Instead I Sit on the grass and start weeding and bum-shuffle my way along the border weeding away like I am possessed and on a couple of occasions this summer I have then had to call for my wife as I am so unwell that I can’t get up and into my wheelchair.
I see the fact that I am struggling as failing and I have to push on and prove to myself and others that I can perform said task!
So seeing that in the book has kind of made me realise that knowing your limits is important, it sounds obvious doesn’t it but I see my weakness as a sign of weakness. Wait does that make sense?
So I am now pushing on and not allowing the physical pain to cause me mental pain!
It is amazing how someone else’s story can help you and I know that this story and visits from the author has helped many young cadets as they start their military career but this can also be used in civilian life and it has helped me.
(Jan 2020) Somehow this is still helping me and I continue to not allow the pain to drag me down. Yesterday we went for a walk or a push for me along the seafront despite the fact it was a high pain day, previously I would have just sat at home. It doesn’t mean the physical pain is any less but mentally I am so much stronger.