I wish there had been more research on it when I was young, but there wasn’t anything about it, it had yet to be defined.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (of PTSD for short), is not something that only soldiers get. Those of us who have moved from one emerging conflict zone to another, are at risk as well. Diplomats are really good at pretending there is nothing wrong. I didn’t understand just how bad the cover ups were, until my first job.
My Boss would come in, he would be cheery enough, at 10am, he would disappear for 30 minutes, come back and would be happy, making jokes. At noon, he would disappear for an hour, sometimes 2 hours. Come back, slurring his words. Within 2 weeks, I realized he was a raving alcoholic. No one was surprised, everyone covered for him. It wasn’t until I noticed he had his car keys in his hand, that I ran after him. He was barely able to stand, I asked for his keys, and offered to call him a cab, or drive him home in his car and I would take a cab back. He began blubbering. I was scared that he was going to take his and someone else’s life if he got behind the wheel. I found an empty meeting room, told him to sit, and got him coffee. I had already managed to get his car keys away from him.
He sat staring at me, and then, tears. He began to sob. He told me just how bad his last 2 postings were, and that he couldn’t keep it together any more. His nightmares were so bad, that he was terrified of sleeping, and the only thing that kept his nightmares at bay, was a few drinks. He had attempted to find help, but no one in the department was willing to help him, he couldn’t find a professional, after all, what can you really divulge to a professional that doesn’t have the same kind of security clearance you have.
Listening to him for over an hour, I realized, just how fragile every single person is who gets sent off to posting. How very isolating, frightening, and stressful it really is, and one can go from being completely fine, to losing their way completely.
That particular boss, who at one time was an incredible Diplomat, got into 5 accidents in one year, attempted suicide, and finally lost his battle in an overdose.
These are the stories that no one ever wants to hear, or talk about. These are the people I felt so privileged to have known. Although flawed, did what their country asked of them, but got nothing in return.