Written by Jonny Parkinson
I didn’t come from a good upbringing and was certainly no angel, I am thankful for the life I have and all those who are precious to me in it.
I’m sat in my room in the block (army accommodation) the drink is either wearing off or I’m getting used to it the thoughts and voices are loud in my head they won’t go away. I’m on my own, I don’t care about myself, I just want it to stop and I’m spiralling out of control. I’ve no drink left, so I start taking pain medication. Laughing to myself and say fxck you, I fall asleep.
I wake hours later being violently sick my body is rejecting the pain medication. I’ve swallowed a bottle of I’m not well and alone and just feeling rubbish and empty. Jesus I can’t even kill myself properly.
This wasn’t my 1st attempt. I’m Jonny, I am in my 30s and I’m mentally tired. I don’t want to be here anymore, my life is awful and I don’t know who I am in the world anymore. I have no emotion I don’t feel human I just know I’m in pain.
In my life, things happened to me, my mum and dad split at a young age, my dad used to beat me badly as he had his own demon’s and I was an outlet. I was bullied at school as I just didn’t fit in.
Then when I was around 12 years old, after the worst beating I got from my Dad, I went to stay with my mum. Her partner was an alcoholic who didn’t get on with, he used to drink away the little money she had. I started stealing from shop, then became homeless for a while, got a criminal record and lived in a hostel for young people which was hell genuinely hell. I got my cheekbone broken by a baseball bat by 3 grown men when I was 15 as I said life wasn’t great.
A guy took pity on me and helped me join the army, he was in himself at the time and he was a good guy just doing a good deed. I will always be in his debt. Sadly, he lost his life in Iraq when we were there in 2003.
Fast forward a few years
I’m tired and as we get our kit on again do a quick comms check and get in the back of the snatch land rovers just wondering are we going to get blown up today or are any more of the people around me going to die we move out of camp.
“Top cover up” the locals hate us, throwing all sorts of shit at us, got visors down trying not to take a brick to the face…….I hate Iraq.
We are literally running to our vehicles and we are surrounded.
The commotion has passed, we are back at camp and I’m in a med centre.
I have some blood on me and I’m loosening off a tourniquet I applied to my leg, it’s stemmed the bleed, but the next thing I know, a lot of panicking medics and casvac (Casualty Evacuation) inbound it’s for me and one other. I’m numb, but I don’t care what happens. We take off on the merlin and as soon as we start flying we’re taking small arms incoming.
I’m just sat staring at the roof of the inside from the stretcher thinking I’m going to die today and I don’t care just kill me quick, no one ever died well suffering on a battlefield. I arrive at hospital and I don’t give them a chance to carry my stretcher off. I’ve unclipped and began to walk off, there’s a crew waiting on us with stretchers and RAF firemen ready to carry us but we’re both walking off smoking.
I see them, they’re in my thoughts, my dreams and live with me. One I see and visit regularly is my last casualty in Afghanistan…. He was fighting with my med staff who were trying to save him, I restrain him with force as he’s trying to fight with me, but he dies on the helicopter.
We all have our demons in life and everyone’s are different. We all go through our own shit. It’s ok to get upset and feel angry toward things. There isn’t a time limit to how long it should take, but once you know you are on that right path, then time will start healing.
I didn’t set out to be in the medical trade, it just sort of happened, I associate it with a very negative time in my life and even after I got out it just didn’t work out for me. My mum got sick when I was medically discharged after Afghanistan on my last tour. I done my best, I gave up chances of working offshore in a well-paid job and tried to care for my mum (she was fiercely independent)
She only got 5 months from diagnosis to passing away with stage 4 lung cancer. It ripped me apart but looking back I got 5 months of quality time with her, and that is worth more than anything in the world and wouldn’t change it.
I was there the day she passed too, dying of cancer isn’t a peaceful thing, my mum was in pain and scared, I just tried my best to make her laugh and just be with her. My wife Vicky was pregnant with our boy, and she was there too. As my mum was passing I had thoughts of taking her pain from her, why do we let people suffer yet put animals to sleep.
I like many, have always felt like I’ve been on the outside of the crowd. A place I was never happy with but lived with it and only in my 30s I’ve realised for me it’s a place of great strength. Many people talk about being Alpha males, but I don’t see myself as that. I see myself as a bit of a rogue male. I’ve been in a lot of trouble in my life, resulting in doing a little bit of time, twice during my army days and repeatedly losing rank. I was never built nor designed to climb a career ladder. My rebellious side of my Scottish roots are too strong for that, but don’t get me wrong there was a time in my life I would have died for my flag willingly.
I moved to my new place recently, and my wife started a new job, so I’m full time Dad. A job I will absolutely try my best with every day. One day I was driving home at around 1ish in the morning and I pass over a bridge which goes over the motorway and I see there is a couple of cars parked, people on phones and as I drive past I see a young guy has stepped over the barrier. I have a moment where I think just keep driving I don’t want to see any more people die, but no sooner has the thought entered my head, I’ve pulled over and I’m walking towards him.
He’s shouting “don’t come near” and telling me to foxtrot Oscar, I just keep talking and I’m not asking why he’s there I ask if he’s alright the response I get is “does it fxcking look like it?” my response is “I don’t know that’s why I’m asking”. I ask him to step over the barrier but you can imagine the answer is no or words to that effect.
In my mind, I didn’t think the young guy wanted to jump, but he was really intoxicated, and all that was going through my head was please don’t fall.
I just gave the guy plenty of space to express himself.
Police turn up quickly, I’ve been edging closer and I was ready to drag him over the barrier but I back off when the police turn up. I won’t hinder them from doing their job. None of this was about me, I was just trying to get home and a young guy needed help and for people to listen.
This is one thing I think we have the right to be greedy with, it’s precious, as far as we know we are here but once, one shot, one chance to be the best person we can be and impact our worlds the way we would like to be remembered.
Everyone has different views on living their best lives and that’s fine, but not everyone has the courage and belief in themselves to do this. We are creatures of habit, routine and these are hard to break especially in the negative form, but life is so short. We do waste a lot of it in negative cycles.
We are only human, it happens but once that time is gone and done then it doesn’t come back. You literally have got to live you’re best life and what it means to you.
To live a life without colour, Is not a life worth living, and a turning point for me, was a poem……………Invictus
May it see you through the rough seas to the green shores of home.
Good luck in your life, it’s special.
Out of the night that covers me
Black as the pit from pole to pole
I thank whatever gods maybe
For my unconquerable soul
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud
Under the bludgeoning of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid
It matters not how straight the gate
How charged the punishments the scroll
I am the captain of my fate
I am the master of my soul
“William Ernest Henley”
Jonny is an army veteran, a father and a keen outdoorsman. He is a qualified Personal Trainer, mental health and well-being coach. He is also a Crossfit L1 trainer with qualifications in trauma medicine