Sunday, November 9, 2014

War photographer Jason Howe's battle with PTSD

War photographer Jason Howe's battle with PTSD

Jason Howe's photograph of Private Stephen Bainbridge stepping on an IED in Afghanistan set in motion a traumatic chain of events for the photographer himself

A cropped version of Jason Howe's 2011 photograph for the Telegraph of Pte Stephen Bainbridge
A cropped version of Jason Howe's 2011 photograph for the Telegraph of Pte Stephen Bainbridge. It was the first image of a wounded soldier on a battlefield in 30 years  Photo: Jason P Howe
The Telegraph
Jessica Salter
November 8, 2014
After a few ‘tough months’, gradually his new life seemed to be helping him. He forged a simple structure to his day: feed the chickens, take the dogs for a walk, tend the vegetables in his garden. He avoided coffee and cigarettes, and stopped reading the news or watching films about war – triggers for his symptoms. The problems were still there, as were the nightmares and depression, but he said he had been managing it.
Despite Howe’s best efforts over the past two years, in a recent email he told me that he is currently suffering a relapse of PTSD. The main debilitating issue is depression. ‘I have a very dark view of the world where, whatever I do, it doesn’t change,’ he said. But it is compounded by problems concentrating and hyper-vigilance – he exhaustively imagines the worst outcomes of every situation.
After Howe’s traumatic experiences caused him to give up front-line photography, he retreated to a farmhouse in Andalusia, where he now leads a simple life, walking his dogs and tending his vegetables. 
PHOTO: James Arthur Allen
He also feels anger. And at times he feels abandoned by the media industry, but ‘then I feel I have nothing to complain about since it was my choice to go to war, and I have to deal with the consequences myself’. Because he has not been able to work, Howe is now facing eviction from his farmhouse. He is planning a road trip around Europe, photographing people who seek a simpler, more sustainable way to live than modern life offers.
He plans to trade website photography for campsites and meals.
‘I am a very positive person, a fighter and a survivor,’ he said at the end of his email. ‘But it is a hard battle and one that I do not always foresee there being the energy available to fight.’
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