RAFairman's Blog

An RAF Airman's Blog


Knackered. Shagged. Ball-bagged. Chin-strapped. Hanging. Fucked. They all mean the same thing…tired.

There have been many times I’ve been all those things. The first 24 hour guard shift I did. The time in Saudi I worked the night shift starting the First Gulf War. The day in Afghan Op Omid Haft kicked off, patrolling for 9 hours and then sandbagging for another 7 hours to prepare the defences of our new Check Point.

But these service and work reasons for being so tired have nothing on how deep down shagged-out, chin-strap, hanging out tired I am. A soul-deep fatigue where the very mention of the word ‘Daddy’ makes my shoulders drop. A sort of tired that has been off to University, worked at its tiredness and come back home full of the knowledge that it has a First in Tiredness and it knows just how to put all that theoretical knowledge into practise.


Dog tired.

A sort of tired where not even sleep will replenish the system and recharge the batteries. The sort of tiredness that hasn’t just drained you, but drained the whole grid and Powergen are now phoning up the French to see if we can have some of their lecky.

But why? Why so tired?

Everything. Leaving the RAF, redundancy, moving house, looking for work, unpacking boxes, being Daddy-day-care, shopping, running the house, painting, failing to complete paperwork for jobs, stressing about money and mortgages, father-in-law dying, wife being very sick in hospital, more daddy day care, not being at home, walking into the glass door of a chemist (because of being so tired and thinking it was an automatic door) and cutting my nose open…and the bloody dog…

Everything. Life.

And yes I know that it’s just what everyone else has to cope with, that others have it equally bad and that there is always someone who is worse off than you and who has to contain with and put up with just as much…but it is seriously getting too much for me.

A break. That’s be nice. But I don’t really want one. I just want us all to be home. In one house, under one roof. In our place doing normal things, whatever normal is anyway.

But why can’t I cope? Why am I finding this all so tiring. Why am I so ball-bagged and why can’t I just chin it all off.

And here’s why. My support network is gone. Along with moving house and leaving my old job behind…I’ve left my old life behind. I’m tired because the support network of the banter with the chaps in the office isn’t there. The laughs with the guys in the mess have gone. The instant common ground that you had with people around you has disappeared and you are alone.

And despite having family around (thanks all!), despite offers from people over on Twitter to ‘talk if you want’ (thank you, very kind but, no), despite being around people, it’s not the same.

I don’t miss the RAF. I felt nothing handing my kit back and a similar feeling of ‘meh-ness’ handing my ID card over. The job I could take or leave. But just the people. People who share an outlook like you. Who share a way of thinking, and who share the same strange, stupid, macabre, self-depreciating, downright sick sense of humour as you do. People who don’t get offended when you are sarcastic towards them, and who give back the same amount of abuse as you are giving.

I miss that. I miss the ability that they have to recharge those batteries – faster than a French Nuke power station flicking a switch to double charge ‘Le rost-biefs’ for the electricity to boil a kettle for a ‘cupper teia’. (Yeah, I think that metaphor has run it’s course now.)

I miss the fact that just half an hours banter is better at powering you through life than a set of dilithium crystals.

I don’t miss the life, I love my life, well I will once it properly kicks in and I have a job and a home and my family around me, but I miss the people. I miss the sense of humour. I knew I would, everyone leaving the service before me said they did the same and that I would too. They were right. I don’t miss the bullshit, the Squadron Leaders, the crap postings, the deployments away for months at a time to god knows where, the lack of control or anything else…I don’t even miss the free healthcare, cheap accommodation, safety of living behind the wire, the variety of the work or the places I have been and things I have done.

I don’t miss any of that. I just miss the laughs and the people who made the laughs happen.


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19 thoughts on “Tiredness…

  1. Is your previous support network that you are missing, available for a telephone catch up? Things will get better, which you know they will, you are in a readjusting phase now. You love where you are now living but you are coping with two of the three most stressful situations; moving house and bereavement and on top of that your wife is now in hospital. Wishing you and your family good health and happiness.

  2. Made me very sad to read this; you always seem to be very upbeat posting on twitter. Am making a huge assumpti0n that you appear to have had a huge amount of change in a very short space of time, and having Mrs F in hospital is just the final straw. Although not been in quite the same position as you , I have changed my life and missed some of what I left behind and wondering if it will ever be the same again. The tiredness I get, have been there a few times in my life and wonder if sleep with ever come and make me feel whole again, thankfully it usually does, and sometimes you just want to run away and hide ’til it all goes away and everything is back in it’s right place. Although a trite thing to say, but things will get better and there is a light at the end of the tunnel even if it is only the smallest glimmer at the moment, it will soon start to get brighter as the tiredness decrease and you find people and things that replace what you had when you were in the RAF. Sending big hugs and kisses to you, Mrs F Lily and Mahsa. Hoping that Mrs F gets better soon and that in a little while you will look back on this and look and how you coped and give yourselves a pat on the back for being strong people xxXXxx

  3. Even after 6… no almost 7 years…I still miss those laughs and the people who made them happen.

  4. I’ve been quite lucky – every couple if weeks I’m going back for a day for Cert Ed and a quick fix of military banter, not long to go till I finally cut the umbilical cord… Hang in there matey. And if all else fails, teach the dog how to play uckers………

  5. Very moving and brilliantly written blog post. Feel free to ignore my utterly unqualified, pretendy doctory advice, but having been a regular sufferer tiredness is a classic symptom of clinical depression – that sort of tired you describe that can’t be helped by sleep. It may be worth getting some prescribed drugs to reset the chemical balance in your brain, level you out and give you a higher platform of energy with which to cope/operate.

    Good luck with everything, it is lovely knowing you on twitter!

  6. I was the same. I’m sure over the last 1/4 century, like me, you ran on adrenaline and a knowledge that fatigue wasn’t an option. You’ve also had a huge amount of stress and upheaval. I just handed my kit in, went on resettlement, got trolleyed in the mess and the Cavern and left. No house buying, mortgage hunting, school choosing, lass of family

    When I finally finished in early 2006 I was dog tired for months, and I mean months. I’d go to bed, sleep solidly for 10 hours (I’m a singly) and wake up tired, often still do. I thought it was the 3 months of 24 on 24 off in Basrah that had done me in but it lasted a lot longer than that. I found not knowing when the particular “push” would end a problem. There’s a tangible end to a det’, guard shift, exercise but life’s rich Faff just keeps on coming.

    Hang in there fellah, the hooter will never drag you from your bed at 2am again, although your kids will. You have a sympathetic audience here

  7. Hi RAFairman,

    Again a very eloquent description of some of the effects of depression, coupled with the added effects of ‘loss of identity’. You write it well – and you should take much comfort from the knowledge that while helping yourself by ‘writing it out’, you help many unseen, unknown people too.

    I think I may have Tweeted this link to you before http://www.clinical-depression.co.uk/ – full of very useful advice and resources, especially working through the Depression Learning Path.

    I have used these resources a lot with one or two friends who have suffered bouts of clinical depression and we have found it great. Very helpful, especially internalising the processes outlined in the ‘Understand the cycle of depression at a glance’ diagram.

    Hope your wife returns to full health any minute now… and your daughter and the dog learn to beat you at Uckers! Take care.

  8. Totally agree with your sentiments, I left as a 12 year singly and had to live back with my parents (at 30 years old) as I couldn’t even get on the housing list. Ended up buggering off to Bosnia to work on a refugee camp (which nearly tipped me over the edge). You will adjust in time, it’s amusing to watch people’s faces when you trot out some sick comment (humour) that civvies deem disgusting. I’ve now been out 17 years, happily married, mortgaged (ironically living in a raf married quarter) and drifting to retirement which can’t come to soon. You will be fine mate, once your good lady is back on her feet, the sun will shine again, all the best + keep smiling….

  9. Very moving – but by writing this you have taken the first step towards coping with it. I agree with comments above – ask your doctor for help – in fact take all and any help that is offered and if it isn’t offered ask for it. People like to help…community is built and forged on those kinds of bonds. New neighbours, shop keepers, the dispenser at the chemist, parents of children’s school friends, old friends who are far away, all of these are just waiting for the chance to lend a helping hand or ear.
    What you are missing was a unique kind of community – now you have to build a new one – good luck and I hope your wife makes a swift recovery.

  10. Z Heinrich on said:

    Been there. Have the t-shirt. And the medal. Time is a healer, after a fashion. After 31 yrs in the police and another 8 as civilian staff for same I can understand what you’re going through because I still miss those days – and I only did 7 years as a Red Cap. Not quite sure what that proves. Keep your chin up.

  11. Neil Wadsworth on said:

    Couldn’t agree more I left the RAF 20 years ago and still remember fondly the people who had the misfortune to work with me or do guard duty with me.Top people

  12. Well written Alex, I’m sure lots of people identify, at least in part, with what you’ve written. I hope Mrs. F makes a speedy recovery and that your new post RAF life gets back on track soon. In the meantime, comfort food, stews, pies, cake along with family cuddles and country walks will all go a long way towards helping you.

  13. The emotional exertion of coping with all the recent changes, kid care, bereavement and Mrs’s sickness are using up your energy. Pleased to hear Mrs F is coming home – it will be good for both of you to have a chum 24/7. Sending positive thoughts 🙂 Jo

    • Know, exactly, what you mean. Seems to be, no matter how much you try to explain “Service Camarderie” to a civilian, the concept seems to remain – just – beyond their understanding.

      I gave up in the end and came to be viewed as “a bit of an eccentric.”

      Maybe, I was?

  14. In my workplace there are three of us who have served in the mob ( I have been out for over fifteen years now). The civvies still don’t get us at all. We end up in tears (of laughter ) sometimes and its usually in the worst possible taste. I still miss the banter, piss takes, evil jokes and general fun of the services. Yes sometimes the job was difficult, but as a cold war warrior you never forget the comradeship which I personnally find difficult to replicate in civvy street.

  15. Reblogged this on DanEverest.com and commented:
    Words from an ex RAF airman

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