It worked and the effect has stayed with me…

My youngest brother was my sole ally in the family – had he not been born I would have left home for good aged nineteen. So it was a devastating blow when he was killed by his wife, ‘manslaughter, diminished responsibility’. Killed rather by the failures of the local Mental Health Trust, particularly a rogue consultant. My other brother (never a pal) and his wife scooped up the children from the police station and have been their legal guardians for the past nearly ten years. They had enough on their plate; I could not look to support from them, at least I had reasonable access to the children who had been part of my life.

The one police ‘help’ folder provided per incident flashed briefly past me and it was from another source that I eventually discovered SAMM – Support After Murder and Manslaughter, who have been a lifeline. Two months before his death I had had a redundancy-driven change of career from desk jobs to being a self-employed gardener. So some basic therapy was there. I did pull a muscle in my back (during training) a couple of weeks after his death but that has been virtually the only effect on my physical health. But for two years I could not get out of bed before eight o’clock in the morning, when a really long lie-in had previously been 7.45am, and it was several more years before I could do two things at once again, eg pick up post from the doormat while a kettle boiled. I could no longer face journeys to places I’d not been to before, and was permanently tetchy, thin-skinned and generally unsociable.

When I read in the on-line version of The Friend about Escaping Victimhood I immediately clicked on the link and sent an e-mail asking to take part. So last November I attended an EV programme at Woodbrooke, a bit hesitant at spending several days with folk like me, and in fact arrived uncharacteristically a bit late. It was fine. I felt so cared for from the start, it was like mother’s milk. The talks on what trauma is like, what it does to a person and how to deal with it were an eye-opener. Although I already knew a bit about the Enneagram and personality types it was brilliant to have this related specifically to responses to trauma. The therapy sessions were a great big birthday present – I would have gone just to have my adrenal gland quietened down, never mind the photography and painting.

The programme was all so well organised that the one-to-one sessions were fitted in for everybody – I’m not always happy in a one-to-one professional situation but I was put so at ease by everyone. Apart from the detailed programme, what really made it work for me was the feeling of being 100% looked after and nurtured, with the EV team who were there just for us down to the last detail, in a place which was as beautiful as it was welcoming. It was like being a cake mix cooked to perfection in an Aga cooker.

After the programme, for me it was like AD after BC. I’ve been able to travel again and take up a role again in my local community, where I’d just dropped out for the previous eight years. I can still be knocked for six by on-going after-effects from my brother’s death – life has become like a series of rakes left the wrong way round waiting to be trodden on. Not so frequent now but it still happens. But I can bounce back again now.

EV is a brilliant programme, made by a dedicated team, and it worked, and the effect has stayed with me. Thank you all so much.