Leeds couple running 200 miles across England to raise awareness of PTSD

By Lauren Wafer-Kiddle

Simon and Louisa by the Barnsley sign on day oneAn ex-army sergeant and his fiancée are running 200 miles across England to raise awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Leeds couple Simon Buckden, 41, and Louisa Rodriguez, 30, co-founders of support group Positive Action For PTSD, are currently running from their home city to London to deliver a book about the condition to David Cameron.

They are campaigning to gain wider recognition and funding for the disorder and questioning the possibility of classification of the disorder so that it will be diagnosed as an injury instead.

Simon, who suffers from PTSD, said: “This is an amazing opportunity for me as someone who has PTSD to be able to highlight the amazing things that we can still do even though we have this invisible condition.”

After suffering from the disorder for several years, Simon added: “It affects and consumes all parts of my life. It is 24 hours a day.

The Book of PTSD tells the stories of sufferers including the experiences of prison officers, ex-army officers and police officers.

Simon and Louisa are currently running the second leg of the route from Sheffield to Nottingham. The couple have been facing 50mph winds as they run from Sheffield to Nottingham.

The run is expected to take six days.

Louisa said: “It is a real honour that people have felt able to share their stories with us, this run is about them and making sure their voices are heard.”

Simon said: “For me that fact that I am alive and that I can experience this pain keeps me going [with the winds].”

Support group volunteer, Nicholas R M Cane said: “PTSD has affected me in a large number of ways, a mixture of nightmares, images of the horrible events I have witnessed, I wake up in sweats, crying and shaking. I am scared of sleeping at night for those reasons and so I end up sleeping during the day.

“It is absolutely fantastic that both of them are completing the run which will help raise more awareness and remove the stigma that surrounds  PTSD but the book that will also make a difference. It will make MP’s understand what it is like to live with PTSD and how hard it is and that it can happen to anyone.”

Simon and Louisa founded Positive Action for PTSD in July after noticing the need for a support group for sufferers.

PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can occur in anyone after they are exposed to a traumatic event, ranging from minor events to natural disasters.

People suffering with PTSD experience varying degrees of symptoms that occur for more than a month after the event including flashbacks, high anxiety levels and avoidance of certain situations.

 

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