February 20, 2018

How to Create Your Own First Aid Kit for PTSD

This week, we continue our series with Patrick Bennett, in which he shares about his toolbox -- a simple strategy that helps pull him back to the "light" when he feels the darkness of PTSD surrounding him.


I find it slightly ironic that I write this piece today as not only am I sharing it with you, but I am actually using it myself due to my current state of mind following being “Triggered” by events in my life over the past few days that have left me experiencing all the “Joys” of my PTSD and Mental health turmoil.

When I am struck down as I am with these issues, it’s as if I am confined in a sealed metal box in my vain attempt to protect myself. I crawl into my shell distancing myself from every one and every thing as I sink deeper and deeper into the cold all consuming darkness or “BLACK DOG” of depression.

Thankfully, I have developed a secret weapon to reach for that helps me to slowly move towards the light of recovery again. It’s a very simple, uniquely personal and private thing that may seem of no interest to others but in time will become a treasured piece of your life.

In order to attempt any job in life you will need some tools and in turn to make life easier you will need to keep those tools close to hand and within easy reach and so I introduce you to “THE Toolbox”.

My Toolbox is a beautiful hand carved wooden box that I inherited from my late dad but you are free to choose what ever you want to use as your Toolbox with just one condition, it has to be a physical box and kept in a place that is always within easy reach. I have mine in open view as just knowing that it’s there is comfort enough (sometimes) but that choice is totally yours to make.

I reached for my box this morning and after much deliberation, I opened it and reached out for its contents in desperation and hope that its contents will somehow help me out of the darkness I am consumed by as it always does.

As I grasp each and every item it contains, I feel myself slowly but surely moving to the light and warmth of recovery and strength to carry on, at least for one more day. I say that because sometimes it works straight away but sometimes it takes a little longer but the thing to remember is that you should never give up on it or on the power within you to recover from anything.

The contents of the box, the tools are totally yours and yours alone, they may seem like rubbish to others but to you they are and will be priceless. Stones, crystals, shells, photos, drawings and anything else that you can look at and hold onto.

What makes them precious is that each and every one of them is a memento, a memory of those times and places when you were happy, really happy and free from your demons. As I hold each item one by one my mind forgets the horrors I have endured and instead drifts back to those happy moments like this piece of stone that I picked from the road near the volcano in Lanzarote. Then I pick up a piece of paper that’s filled with the beauty of my free reigning thoughts when I left my mind drift as I described in my last piece. God that must have been twenty years ago but as I hold it now I feel like it was only yesterday.

Then I pick up a drawing my son gave me when he was three, he’s thirteen now but again I remember every detail of that moment in time and how happy I felt back then and again another chunk of my darkness melts away.

There are things that I put into my Toolbox all the time and there are things that I remove as I move forward through my life. What you put into your Toolbox is totally your decision to make and yours alone and as I said there will be times when just knowing that your Toolbox is there will be enough to keep you safe but there also may be times when you spend days going through it and it’s items but please trust yourself to know that you can make it through the darkest days so please never give up, never give up on the power you have within you to reach out of the darkness towards the light via the small trinkets and mementos of the happy times you’ve had in your life. Those trinkets will always be there to remind you how beautiful and unique a person you are and not what you have been through.

Now it’s time for me to go back to my Toolbox in my attempt to reach out to the light of recovery.

Stay safe and well


"The ruthless honesty of Mr. Bennett means that this is not a story with a sentimental and unambiguously happy ending. He is still on a journey that is sometimes difficult and painful, but he has shown remarkable courage, integrity and honesty and done the community a service by writing this extraordinary and valuable book."


  1. Like a patronus charm, it beats back the difficult thoughts by a memory of the happiest you've ever been.

  2. Hi, Thank you for your comments, rather than liken it to a magical power of fiction it is a very real and physical reminder that yes you can, will and have the power within you to be so much more than the horrific things that you were forced to endure, that happiness in your life is a very real thing to cling on to no matter how dark or difficult the moment.


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