Being an Effects Officer has no upside. Everything you do has to be done tactfully, and most of what you do is not good - arranging for lead lined coffins, talking to undertakers in the UK, and trying to liaise with the family. I even had to find out how to repatriate a budgie. John came from a Salvation Army background and his Father was going to take the funeral, so I had to liaise with him as well. I was also trying to find Linda somewhere to live - the RAF had given her notice to quit - and luckily there were quarters at RAF Locking, where many of the widows went.
I flew back to the UK for the funeral, which was about as awfully sad as you can imagine. I flew back to Germany on a horribly early Hercules from RAF Lyneham.
My ordinary job had suffered, so I had to catch up on that. At that point, I began to feel odd - rather tearful and not able to cope with the usual pressures. However, I struggled on. Something had to give, and it was my back. I was confined to bed and eventually ended up in hospital. All the time, my mood was suffering, although I didn't know what was wrong - I thought it was a reaction to the pain. I couldn't cope with emotion in others - I was too needy myself, but I didn't know what I needed, apart from complete rest and no stress.
It was the end of my tour, and i was flown back to the UK on a stretcher with duty free bottles wrapped around me. I was discharged from the RAF hospital and went home, to go to my new posting. I couldn't talk about how I was feeling and my friends suffered in silence. It took about 6 months for me to start to feel normal again, and go back to Germany.
There's no doubt that I had had a breakdown, but as usual no one noticed. There was no support for Effects Officers and no debrief after the crash - one was just expected to cope. With hindsight, I should have gone to the doctor, but I hadn't the words to describe how I was feeling. I just did what I was best at - struggled through.
I spent 16 years in the RAF defending the Free World , then got bunged out unceremoniously for being bipolar. I and was subsequently diagnosed with PTSD. Funny old world, isn't it?