Shaun was in excruciating pain and could barely move. He was examined over several days by doctors as they tried to determine the cause of his sudden decline in health. However, none of the tests could find the cause of his problems. He was discharged without any answers – despite being unable to move his body fully and still being in constant pain.
After this, Shaun had to take three months off from running his business. When he eventually went back to work, he was still fighting the pain in his body every day. As his movement became increasingly limited he had to stop working, but his symptoms didn’t stop getting worse.
He visited various medical professionals who were unable to offer any explanation. One even told him that his condition was psychosomatic.
“I went from being an active, proud, family man to someone who couldn’t move without feeling pain – and couldn’t work. It was a rapid decline once the symptoms began and no one could explain how as a fit and healthy person I had succumbed to an illness no one could explain. I felt lost and forgotten, I didn’t want to sign on or ask for help. I’m not one to be defeated but the more ill I became the less help I received.”
Shaun felt like he was going round in circles with doctors and medical professionals unable to explain his symptoms and declining health. As a result, his marriage broke down; and he began to remove himself from everyday life, unable to face his friends and those he had served with. This led to Shaun experiencing a mental breakdown and being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
After receiving help from the Legion, Combat Stress and the National Gulf Veterans & Families Association, he moved from Essex to Stowmarket in Suffolk and was able to live in an adapted bungalow.
“My whole life has fallen apart and I am not the same man I was when I left the Army. I am frustrated with the lack of acknowledgment of Gulf veterans, the lack of understanding and support. Most importantly, I want answers.”
Shaun has found that engaging in art has helped him cope with his illness. He is currently completing a fine art degree at the University of Suffolk.